Repo Commentary-01/16/19


I announced in my 12/24/18 Repo Commentary that I am honored to have been selected to be the Chairperson of the upcoming 25th (Silver Anniversary) IMN Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference 2/5-2/6 in Fort Lauderdale at the Ritz-Carlton, and to add my disruptive touch to make it fresh again.

We are already shaking it up and including many more sectors of clients to participate, including pension funds, municipalities, money funds, hedge funds, asset managers, and GSEs. If you have not yet registered, you need to do so soon! I am hoping to see many of my clients there.

The focuses will be on alternative repo efforts, fintech, repo reinvestment AND securities lending, and women in the securities financing industry. Did you see that Citigroup became the first US bank to publish an “unadjusted” gender pay gap, showing that its female employees earn 29% less than men do? I hope to see all of you there and I’ll be reaching out to many of you to participate, as it is less than a month away!

I am very interested in adding 3 hedge fund panelists to join a large Pension Plan to a panel being moderated by a prime broker, to discuss the demands in the hedge fund industry for borrowing securities from third-party lenders and their beneficial owners (like Pension Plans).

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.

01/16 Holidays or Events:

• National Religious Freedom Day in the US
• Teacher’s Day in Myanmar
• Teachers’ Day in Thailand (they must have better English teachers)
• National Fig Newton Day (love ‘em)
• Book Publishers Day
• International Hot and Spicy Food Day
• National Good Teen Day
• National Nothing Day
• Appreciate a Dragon Day
• National Without a Scalpel Day
• Psychiatric Technician’s Day
• Prohibition Remembrance Day

Some Famous People Born 01/16 in History:

• 972-Sheng Zong, emperor of the Liao Dynasty
• 1853-Andre Michelin, French businessman, co-founded the Michelin Tyre Company
• 1878-Harry Carey-American actor, director, producer, screenwriter
• 1882-Margaret Wilson, American author
• 1894-Irving Mills, American publisher
• 1900-Edith Frank, German-Dutch mother of Anne Frank
• 1901-Fulgencio Batista, Cuban colonel and politician, 9th President of Cuba
• 1908-Ethel Merman, American actress and singer
• 1917-Carl Karcher, American businessman, founded Carl’s Jr.
• 1932-Dian Fossey, American zoologist and anthropologist
• 1933-Susan Sontag, American novelist and critic
• 1934-Bob Bogle, American rock guitarist and bass player
• 1935-A.J. Foyt, American race car driver
• 1942-Rene Angelil, Canadian singer and manager/husband of Celine Dion
• 1942-Barbara Lynn, American singer-songwriter, guitarist
• 1943-Ronnie Milsap, American singer and pianist
• 1944-Jim Stafford, American singer-songwriter and actor
• 1948-John Carpenter, American director, producer, screenwriter, and composer
• 1950-Debbie Allen, American actress, dancer, and choreographer
• 1950-Robert Schimmel, American comedian, actor and producer
• 1952-Fuad II, King of Egypt
• 1952-L. Blaine Hammond, American colonel, pilot and astronaut
• 1959-Sade, Nigerian-English singer-songwriter and producer
• 1962-Maxine Jones, American R&B singer-songwriter and actress
• 1966-Jack McDowell, American baseball player
• 1969-Roy Jones Jr., American boxer
• 1974-Kate Moss, English model and fashion designer
• 1980-Albert Pujols, Dominican-American baseball player
• 1985-Joe Flacco, American football player
• 1986-Mark Trumbo, American baseball player

This Day in History (01/16):

• 27 BC-Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus is granted the title Augustus by the Roman Senate, marking the beginning of the Roman Empire.
• 378-General Siyaj K’ak’ conquers Tikai, enlarging the domain of King Spearthrower Owl of Teotihuacan. I later usurped that title.
• 550-Gothic War: the Ostrogoths, under King Totila, conquer Rome after a long siege, by bribing the Isaurian garrison.
• 1120-the Council of Nablus is held, establishing the earliest surviving written laws of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
• 1362-a storm tide in the North Sea ravages the East coast of England and destroys the German city of Rungholt on the island of Strand.
• 1412-the Medici family is appointed the official banker of the Papacy.
• 1492-just as Columbus lands elsewhere, the first grammar of the Spanish language is presented to Queen Isabella I. It is Castillian, by the way.
• 1547-Grand Duke Ivan IV of Muscovy becomes the first Tsar of Russia, replacing the 264-year-old Grand Duchy of Moscow with the Tsardom of Russia.
• 1556-Philip II becomes King of Spain.
• 1572-Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, is tried for treason for his part in the Ridolfi plot to restore Catholicism in England.
• 1605-the first edition of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Book One of Don Quixote) by Miguel de Cervantes is published in Madrid, Spain.
• 1707-the Scottish Parliament ratifies the Act of Union, paving the way for the creation of Great Britain.
• 1757-forces of the Maratha Empire defeat a 5,000-strong army of the Durrani Empire in the Battle of Narnia, sorry, Narela.
• 1780-American Revolutionary War: Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
• 1786-Virginia enacts the Statute for Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson.
• 1809-Penisular War: the British defeat the French at the Battle of La Coruna.
• 1847-John C. Fremont is appointed Governor of the new California territory.
• 1862-Hartley Colliery disaster: 204 men and boys killed in a mining disaster, prompted a change in UK law which henceforth required all collieries to have at least two independent means of escape. I learn something new every day, I never knew this term for coal mine.
• 1878-Russo-Turkish War: Battle of Philippopolis: Captain Aleksandr Burago with a squadron of Russian Imperial army dragoons liberates Plovdiv from Ottoman rule.
• 1883-the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, establishing the United States Civil Service, is passed.
• 1900-the United States Senate accepts the Anglo-German treaty of 1899 in which the United Kingdom renounces its claim to the Samoan islands.
• 1909-Ernest Shakleton’s expedition finds the magnetic South Pole. Quite a story!
• 1919-the United States ratifies the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, requiring Prohibition in the United States one year after ratification.
• 1920-Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc was founded on the campus of Howard University.
• 1920-the League of Nations holds its first council meeting in Paris, France.
• 1942-crash of TWA Flight 3, killing all 22 aboard, including film star Carole Lombard.
• 1945-Adolf Hitler moves into his underground bunker, the so-called Fuhrerbunker.
• 1964-okay this is freaky! I bet you didn’t know this when you heard that Carol Channing had died yesterday? “Hello, Dolly!” opened on Broadway, beginning a run of 2,844 performances, with Carol Channing as the lead. Perhaps, she has another opening night tonight in Heaven.
• 1969-Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 perform the first-ever docking of manned spacecraft in orbit and the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another, and the only time such transfer was done by a space walk.
• 1979-the last Iranian Shah flees Iran with his family for good and relocates to Egypt.
• 1991-Coalition Forces go to war with Iraq, beginning the Gulf War.
• 1992-El Salvador officials and rebel leaders sign the Chapultepec Peace Accords in Mexico City, Mexico, ending the 12-year Salvadoran Civil War that claimed at least 75,000 lives.
• 2001-US President Bill Clinton awards former President Theodore Roosevelt a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War.
• 2002-the UN Security Council unanimously establishes an arms embargo and the freezing of assets of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the remaining members of the Taliban.
• 2003-the Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 which would be its final one. It disintegrated 16 days later on re-entry, killing all on board.
• 2006-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is sworn in as Liberia’s new President. She becomes Africa’s first female elected as head of state.
• 2016-33 out of 126 freed hostages are injured and 23 killed in terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on a hotel and a nearby restaurant.

Fun Fact of the Day:

There are more possible moves in a game of chess (Claude Shannon estimate) than the number of atoms in the observable universe.—Victor Allis

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Without deep reflection, one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.”—Albert Einstein

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at $74.34/barrel on 10/5, $47.66/barrel on 12/23, $48.63 on 01/07, and $52.31/barrel on 01/16 (yesterday). The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station moved from $1.86/gallon on 01/07 to $1.97/gallon on 01/16. The USD has been taking a beating versus other currencies, due to the budget impasse and current US government shutdown. versus the Yen was trading at $112.20 on 12/24, was $108.60 on 01/07, and now is up a bit to 109.07 on 01/16. The USD was at $1.1426 versus the Euro on 12/24, but on 01/07 was at $1.1478, and a bit stronger on 01/16 at $1.1396. The USD was at $1.2655 against the British Pound on 12/24, but on 01/07 was at $1.2770, and is now even weaker on 01/16 at $1.2880. The USD versus the CAD was $1.3442 on 12/24, but at $1.3297 on 01/07, and now at $1.3255 on 01/16. Gold closed 10/5 at $1204.10/ounce, 12/24 at $1256.70/ounce, 01/07 at $1288.85/ounce, and 01/16 at $1293.50, reflecting the continued uncertainty of the markets and flight to gold. Bitcoin was trading at $8,185.21 on 7/25, at $6,350 on 10/5, and $3,774.97 on 12/24. On 01/07 it was at at $3,7774.97. On 01/16, it took some more of a beating, down to $3,598.90. Litecoin founder is stoking a debate over ‘Bitcoin Extremists’ Tweets. UK Crypto Exchange Coinfloor will launch trading of physically delivered Bitcoin Futures. Somehow, that strikes me as ironic. Argentina says the NEM Foundation will develop a blockchain-powered copyright system for journalists. In India, a fourth suspect has been arrested following an alleged $71.6 million crypto scam. A Paris “Treasure Hunt” has a Bitcoin prize worth $1000 up for grabs in a wall mural. A Hong Kong entrepreneur has been accused of cheating investors in a crypto mining investment scheme. The CEO of Epic Games, which owns Fortnite, said the Fortnite store’s acceptance of altcoin Monero was accidental. Japan is gauging interest in a Bitcoin ETF. Nevada has issued almost 1,000 digital Marriage Certificates on Ethereum, proactively using blockchain technology, but government acceptance varies across different agencies. In 2017, Nevada became the first state to exempt blockchain transactions from tax obligations. Yesterday, cryptocurrency hardware wallet firm, Ledger, unveiled a new Bluetooth-based wallet. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security reportedly raided the office of a Michigan-based science and tech center last month during a crypto-related investigation. So, it appears that PM May is now facing a potential historic defeat on Brexit and the EU is telling her that “time is almost up.” EU has expressed horror that UK Parliament defeated the Brexit deal agreed to by May in a new Brexit vote and has refused to renegotiate the deal. Analysts and the EU fear that the likelihood of the UK just ‘tumbling’ out of the EU without a negotiated deal is a higher prospect now.

Global Financial News:

PG&E, responsible for providing power to the San Francisco area, says it will file Chapter 11 bankruptcy, to avoid scores of lawsuits being filed against them, claiming faulty equipment caused many of the wildfires, like the Paradise devastation. The State has already said they will not step in to bail the company out. Several banks have released their Q4 earnings and Bank of America announced record profits, up 25%, on interest rate increases and corporate tax benefits, sending the stock soaring already 5% this morning. It was the firm’s highest annual profit, $28.1 billion, since 2006, when it was up $21.1 billion. Citigroup kicked off the banks that were reporting, when is announced a profit of $4.3 billion, compared with a loss of $18.9 billion a year ago, when it took a charge for the corporate tax reduction. This morning, Wells Fargo announced that it had a $6.1 billion profit, down 1% from a year ago, as it continues to struggle with the unauthorized accounts scandal. It also disclosed which types of jobs it will cut next at the bank. As I reported in the last Repo Commentary, Morgan Stanley is set to cut sales & trading jobs soon. At the same time, they are in the midst of announcing bonuses and promotions to the rest of their staff. They announced that they were promoting 145 people from Executive Director to Managing Director today. Today, JPMorgan Chase reported record profits of $7.1 billion, up 67% from a year ago. The biggest surprise, besides BOA’s and JPMorgan’s earnings, though, was probably news that Bank of NY was cutting some 10% of the workforce globally, along with a tough earnings call today. EPS was down 22%, but due in part to “a series of notable items.” Total revenue was up 7%. Goldman Sachs reported that M&A fees were up 56%, to the highest in more than a decade, in the dealmaking boom, and that that offset poor results in trading, worse results since the Global Financial Crisis. Fixed income trading, in particular, was down 18%, worse than analysts expected. Although revenue fell 1% at the bank, the firm cut its compensation costs by 11%. Four Chinese tycoons just transferred $17 billion of their money to trusts. Fiserve bought First Data for $22 billion. Moody’s said that the partial US government shutdown could create problems for the bond market, causing “liquidity strains.” The People’s Bank of China has injected a record $83 billion into the nation’s economy through reverse repurchase transactions, according to Reuters. Banco Santander is no longer hiring Andrea Orcel as CEO.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed at 26,656.77 on 9/20, closed at 26,447.05 on 10/5, closed at 21,792.20 on 12/23, closed at 21,712.53 on 12/26. When we last chatted, on 01/08, it was nearing 24,000. On 01/16, it closed at 24,207.16, still roaring back. S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20 of 2,930.66, closing on 10/5 at 2,885.58, then on 12/26 at 2,467.70, in bear market territory. Yet, as of 1/7, it had rebounded to 2,549.69 close. It closed on 01/16 at 2,616.10. Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28 high of 8,030.04, closing 10/5 at 7,788.45, then 12/26 at 6,554.36. Yet, as of 01/07, it too had rebounded to close at 6,823.47. On 01/16, it closed at 7,034.70.

US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting, rose still higher after the meeting and then plummeted with the drop in Equities, and have continued to drop and even invert since. On 10/5, 2years closed at 2.88%, closed 12/18 at 2.65%, closed 01/07 at 2.53%, and closed 01/16 at 2.55%; on 10/5, 3years closed at 2.99%, closed on 12/18 at 2.64%, and closed 01/07 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years), and then closed 01/16 at 2.53%, still inverted; on 10/5, 5years closed at 3.07%, closed on 12/18 at 2.65%, closed 01/07 at 2.49%, and closed 01/16 at 2.54%; on 10/5, 7years closed at 3.18%, closed at 2.74% on 12/18, and closed on 01/07 at 2.60%, and 01/16 at 2.62%; on 10/5, 10years closed at 3.23%, closed at 2.82% on 12/18, closed on 01/07 at 2.70%, and closed 01/16 at 2.73%; and on 10/5, 30years closed at 3.40%, closed at 3.07% on 12/18, closed at 2.99% on 01/07, and closed at 3.07% on 01/16.

Housing News:

By all measurements, the housing market cooled in 2018, and 2019 looks like it may be a difficult year for both buyers and sellers, according to analysts. Most analysts are predicting higher interest rates (although as we just saw above with Treasury yields, they have dramatically dropped since October, some down nearly ½%) and higher home prices, mainly because of less supply and higher labor and material costs. Both of those would be difficult for the housing market, but expected continued economic growth and increase in employment are supposed to prop up demand. I guess, if the housing market gets too unpredictable, that probably helps the renovation of existing homes and the various industries that support that. Analysts say, despite the delay following the Great Recession, the Millenials are now the biggest homebuyer group, particularly for entry-level homes, although supply is very limited. One thing homebuyers should be considering, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that they have a total debt-to-income ratio below 43%, when all is said and done. I think one thing to watch is the continued move from ownership to renting, houses and condos, as home price increases are likely to advance faster than wage growth. As 2018 ends, with lower existing and new home sales, as well as home prices, analysts still see the slowdown stopping short of a crash. Figures released Wednesday by the US Census Bureau show that almost 2.5 million people have moved to the state of Florida since 2010, up 13.3% in population. Florida remains the country’s 3rd most populous state. Florida’s growth rate in the last year was 1.5%, only surpassed by Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

US Home Sales plummeted in December by almost 11% and the annual price growth rate showed the smallest increase in 6 years, according to data from Redfin. Inventories are starting to increase and buyers are taking more time and clearly now have the upper hand. One possible silver lining which could help going forward, is that 30-year mortgage rates peaked in November at 4.94%, up a full percentage point since the beginning of 2018, but have since fallen to 4.45%. Perhaps, with lower mortgage rates, affordability will increase and lead to higher demand.

“Canada’s commercial property market is set for another blockbuster year.” National Post

Repo News:  

When I last wrote before Christmas, the repo market was showing resilience after yet another Fed tightening, with GC Overnight trading well-below the expected 2.60% rate, probably due to some GSE cash still being in the system. At the time, we were heading into year-end and were seeing some minor year-end balance sheet and funding pressures. Scott Skyrm saw the Turn at the time as 12/31-1/2 at 3.10%/3.00%.

Well, things didn’t TURN out that way at all. Liquidity, which everyone said was in abundance, shriveled up. Somehow, it shriveled up BOTH ways. Broker/dealers had difficulty financing and the O/N GC rate went north of 6.00%, and collateral providers struggled to find balance sheet at broker/dealers. But, somehow, at the same time, cash providers couldn’t find enough collateral at the broker/dealers and were forced to absorb rates that were so low, hundreds of bp away from 6.00%, that they actually went to the Fed’s dormant RRP program (averaging $11 billion and frequently near zero) and took down a hefty $43 billion at sub-repo rates. We haven’t seen such a disjointed year-end in years. And, it’s ironic that it came right after the regulators and the media went on about how liquidity had returned to the Repo market and everything was fine now.

Remember, on 12/24, I wrote this in the Repo Commentary, which now is prescient of what happened at year-end, and possibly what now actually exists:

“I will say that I saw a provocative piece by my old friend, Steve Malekian, regarding Liquidity Assumptions in the Repo Market. I have been seeing several articles about how 10 years now from the events of the Financial Crisis or Great Recession, we have now returned to some kind of ‘normalcy’. The banks are much better capitalized, forced to be so by over 300 regulations slapped on them and forced deleveraging to all market participants. Many people have been remarking how liquidity has returned to the market and is in abundant supply now. Now, I don’t know about you, but I see deleveraging and increased liquidity as an issue in semantics and timing. If you force people to slash their use of liquidity by as much as 60%, and it is still technically there, then there’s sort of more liquidity.

On the counterparty credit risk side, regulators certainly got things more transparent and eased questions about bank solvency, although the ‘too big to fail’ thing still lurks. There are less participants and the larger ones have crowded out some of the smaller ones. But, at what price was counterparty credit risk at banks reduced? Concentrating that risk into one, two, or three CCPs, may have reduced one counterparty credit risk, just to increase credit risk and concentration risk among only a few institutions. I remember one of the smartest money funds had told me that they now look at the CCPs’ membership lists and their waterfall provisions very carefully.

Anyway, Steve points out that bank balance sheets were slashed and client coverage was culled. As bank capital has been reallocated now back to the Repo Desks, for their smooth revenue stream, its allocation among clients is very different than it used to be. So, if you happened to be a client in the rare category of platinum (in terms of size and doing many of the product lines of that bank), you now are seeing more liquidity from that bank. But, if you are smaller or only doing repo or only doing thinner bid/offer spread repo, you are not receiving the prior liquidity or you are seeing much wider bid/offer spreads.

Remember that liquidity and balance sheet are fickle things that can change pretty suddenly. So, is liquidity overall up? Or, is this time different?

Anyway, I’ve paraphrased Steve, perhaps not perfectly, and added some of my own thoughts just to provoke discussion.”

Well, that’s scary, even to me! The problem seems to be that the Fed added all of these tools to provide liquidity but only to take cash out of the system with their RRP, not ADD cash to the system to keep rates down and to provide liquidity to collateral providers or to broker/dealers. Maybe, the liquidity really has moved to just the Platinum customers. I would also like to know more about how SOFR, a median of Triparty Repo rates from broker/dealers to cash providers missed by so much the actual average repo rate of the market? Is it because it missed the bilateral trades or is it because it only focuses on the Offer Side of the market, or both?

I’m hearing from several sources that the sponsored repo program at FICC, Direct Repo at AVM, Elixium electronic platform, GLMX electronic platform, EUREX CCP, peer-to-peer OTC financing, and BONY’s DBVX are all making headway and volumes are up, although still below 5% of the overall European and US repo markets. I’ll give you more of my thoughts on all that in the next Repo Commentary (otherwise, I’ll never finish this and all the other news will be old!). But, in the meantime, Risk ran an interesting article on a survey of banks that were hesitating to sign on to vendors who offered connections to electronic trading platforms because they don’t want additional services, such as order routing and analytics, which are often bundled in. Bloomberg had an interesting article about the video game Fortnite, saying that “huge multiplayer games are true economic exchanges.” I think that is very interesting, seeing the video game as a digital exchange for the future of global trading. Ah, I keep thinking of a Repo Exchange…

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences:
 

• Finadium will hold a webinar on moving to SOFR, SONIA, and ESTER, the three principal LIBOR alternatives, on 1/15.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I have been chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium will hold a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN will hold its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet will hold its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• RMA will hold its 16th annual PASLA/RMA Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia on 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA will hold its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• IMN will hold its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Repo & Securities Lending Conference in Boca Raton, FL in October.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC in November.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 2.50%, where it had been set on 12/13 FOMC meeting tightening of 25bp.

The next FOMC meetings are: 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

The Federal Reserve will propose a rule this year to simplify the stress tests for regional banks and to reduce their frequency, per Randal Quarles. The rule would apply to banks with $100 billion-$250 billion in assets. Nellie Lang, a former economist at the Fed, has withdrawn from consideration to be a governor at the Fed.

“Kansas City Fed’s Esther George Says Central Bank Can Pause Rate Increases: One of the Federal Reserve’s most consistent supporters of raising interest rates said the central bank could refrain from more increases for the time being while it studies the effects of its previous steps to withdraw economic stimulus.” Wall Street Journal

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

The USGS updated its 2005 rankings of the 161 volcanoes that pose the most threat to American lives. Since 2005, that total number has dropped by 8. The 18 very highest threat volcanoes are in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. 39 other volcanoes are high threat, 49 are moderate, 34 are low, and 21 are very low threat. The United States is one of Earth’s most volcanically active countries. Since 1980, there have been 120 eruptions and 52 episodes of notable volcanic threat at 44 US volcanoes. Using 24 factors to determine the threat to people and evaluate the US volcanoes, the USGS came up with the entire list. Here are the 18 very highest threat volcanoes:
• Akutan Island-Alaska
• Augustine Volcano-Alaska
• Makushin-Alaska
• Redoubt Volcano-Alaska
• Mount Spur-Alaska
• Mount Baker-Washington
• Glacier Peak-Washington
• Mount Ranier-Washington
• Mount St. Helens-Washington
• Crater Lake-Oregon
• Mount Hood-Oregon
• Newberry Volcano-Oregon
• Three Sisters Volcano-Oregon
• Lassen volcanic center-California
• Long Valley Caldera-California
• Mount Shasta-California
• Kilauea-Hawaii
• Mauna Loa-Hawaii

I was looking at the USGS latest map on the largest earthquakes since 01/08, and they have mostly occurred in a ring around the Pacific Ocean. The latest earthquakes:

1/17/19 5.3 133km WSW of La Libertad, Mexico
1/17/19 5.1 Carlsberg Ridge
1/17/19 5.2 57km SSW of Sola, Vanuatu
1/17/19 5.4 133km ESE of Moehan, India
1/16/19 5.1 215km NNE of Tobelo, Indonesia
1/16/19 5.4 205km NNE of Tobelo, Indonesia
1/16/19 5.1 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
1/16/19 5.0 101km NNE of Hihifo, Tonga
1/16/09 5.4 111km E of Tadine, New Caledonia
1/16/19 5.1 158km ESE of Tadine, New Caledonia
1/15/19 5.2 51km W of Puerto Santa, Peru
1/15/19 5.8 98km SE of Pondaguitan, Philippines
1/15/19 6.6 96km NW of Sola, Vanuatu
1/15/19 5.3 56km SSW of Masachapu, Nicaragua
1/14/19 5.0 77km SW of Kaktovik, Alaska
1/13/19 5.0 168km SSE of Ohonua, Tonga
1/13/19 5.0 15km NW of Anchorage, Alaska
1/13/19 5.3 72km WNW of Kirakira, Solomon Islands
1/13/19 5.1 225km NNE of Tobelo, Indonesia
1/12/19 5.0 238km WNW of Saumlaki, Indonesia
1/12/19 5.3 164km S of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
1/12/19 5.1 153km SSW of Kotaagung, Indonesia
1/12/19 5.0 43km E of Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka
1/12/19 5.2 South of Tonga
1/12/19 5.3 39km NW of Kashi, China
1/11/19 5.4 116km WNW of Bengkulu, Indonesia
1/11/19 5.2 105km E of Ohonua, Tonga
1/10/19 5.0 75km SSE of Palaikastron, Greece
1/10/19 5.8 South of Tonga
1/10/19 5.2 172km ESE of Raoul Island, New Zealand
1/08/19 6.3 16km SSE of Nishinoomote, Japan

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st and ended November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted that this season would be a busy, above average hurricane season. They had predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. There were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. In 2017, they were way off the wrong way as well, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here were the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene done
Isaac done
Joyce done
Kirk done
Leslie done
Michael done
Nadine done
Oscar done
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ended 11/1/18. Okay, that’s the last Repo Commentary with the hurricane data, because even I get tired of seeing it.

As for the weather, we have a cool front in Florida, with sunny days and temperatures in the 60s in the morning and 70s in the afternoon, dropping to the 50s at night. We are likely to get some rain this weekend, as temperatures begin to climb. There is a national weather alert for a major storm which will pound California, with the last and strongest in a week-long period of Pacific storms hitting California with heavy rainfall, mountain snow, and flooding near recent wildfire regions. Meanwhile, a weaker, progressive system may produce light snow from the Ohio Valley into the northern Mid-Atlantic region into the early weekend. For the weekend, expect a major winter storm to develop from an upper level trough over the western US, which will move eastward over the High Plains by Friday, then take freezing rain, heavy snow, and heavy rain through the central US and eastern US over the next few days. The Gulf Coast region is likely to see heavy thunderstorm activity. After this large storm, an arctic surface high will plunge down from Canada and bring frigid temperatures across the Plains and the Upper Midwest, bringing temperatures down 15-25 degrees below normal.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season ended in November with the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. But, fear not baseball fans, as the MLB has announced the earliest Opening Day ever for 2019, with all 30 teams playing on 3/28/19. They are not counting the first game of the season, between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, that will occur in Tokyo on March 20-21. The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox will play the Yankees in London, for the first-ever MLB games in Europe, on 6/29-6/30. Spring Training will begin 2/21 with the first game between the Mariners and the A’s in the Cactus League. The Grapefruit League kicks off 2/22 with a game between the Rays and the Phillies. The World Champion Red Sox will be visiting the White House, as a complete team, on 2/15. Yankees’ beloved Mel Stottlemyre has died at age 77.

Sporting News announced its MLB Player of the Year as Red Sox Mookie Betts. The Red Sox promptly agreed to extend his contract another year in arbitration for $20 million. LHP Derek Holland is re-signing with the Giants. The offseason Free Agency Hot Stove has begun in full force. The two biggest star free agents and likely largest contracts are Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Manny Machado has reportedly received an 8-year contract offer from the White Sox. The Phillies are still hoping to sign him though. The Yankees were also interested. Rumor is that if Machado signs elsewhere, the White Sox and Phillies would be interested in Mike Moustakas. The Phillies are leading the sweepstakes for Bryce Harper, after meeting with him, although the White Sox are also competing with them on him. Rockies’ Nolan Arenado reportedly turned down $24 million in arbitration. He wanted $30 million for the 2019 season. The record arbitration was $23 million that Josh Donaldson received with the Blue Jays in 2018. The Padres have reportedly explored a 3-team trade, which would send Indians’ ace Corey Kluber to the Reds. D-Backs’ ace Patrick Corbin has signed a mega deal of 6years/$140 million with Nationals. The Giants are shopping 28-year-old infielder Joe Panik. The Brewers are supposedly interested. The Yankees are still discussing trading starter Sonny Gray to at least 6 teams. The Yankees are reportedly close to a 2-year/$24 million deal with DJ LeMahieu. The Yankees re-signed reliever Zach Britton. The Braves are interested in A.J. Pollock. The Phillies signed former Yankees reliever David Robertson as a ‘relief ace’ for 2years/$23 million. The Mariners landed Japan baseball starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi for 3years/$43 million. The Twins signed slugger Nelson Cruz for one year/$14 million. The A’s signed reliever Joakim Soria for 2years/$15 million. The Cardinals are reportedly close to signing reliever Andrew Miller. Don’t get me started on Miller, who pitched horrendously for the Red Sox, but terrifically for the Yankees and Indians. Starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, also a former Red Sox, reportedly will stay in the NL East, with the Nationals, signing a 2year/$19 million deal. The Angels added starter Trevor Cahill to the t Lowrie for 2years/$20 million. 33-year-old former star, Daniel Murphy, will be joining the Rockies for 2years/$24 million. Controversial starter, Matt Harvey, will go to the Angels for one year/$11 million. Meanwhile, another former Met, Jeurys Familia, will return to the Mets for 3years/$30 million. The Nationals and Brian Dozier reportedly agreed to a 1-year deal/$9 million. The Brewers signed Yasmani Grandal for one year/$18.25 million. The Yankees re-signed 36-year-old J.A. Happ for 2years/$34 million. The Mets signed catcher Wilson Ramos for 2years/$19.5 million. The Rays added starter Charlie Morton for 2years/$30 million. Brian McCann returned to the Braves, after lackluster stints with the Yankees and Astros, for one year/$2 million. The Braves also signed 3B Josh Donaldson for one year/$23 million. Former MLB closer John Wetteland has been arrested on child sex abuse charges.

Many people are wondering whether Oklahoma QB and Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray, will choose MLB or NFL, after the A’s chose him with the No.9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and gave him a signing bonus of almost $5 million. Well, yesterday, he declared for the NFL Draft. I think he’s making a big mistake, as baseball players tend to have longer careers and less concussions. Unless, he becomes a Tom Brady, Brett Favre, or Drew Brees and plays into his 40s.

Astros’ 3B Alex Bregman has undergone elbow surgery. Anaheim and Angels hope to buy more time for stadium-lease talks.

Golf:

The PGA Tour season began with its swing through Hawaii. They played the Sentry Tournament of Champions event at Kapalua in Maui. It was won by Xander Schauffele, with an astounding 62 on Sunday. This past weekend they played the Sony Open in Oahu in Honolulu at the Waialae CC, and it was won by Matt Kuchar, who ran away with it, 4 strokes ahead of Putnam. Now, the PGA moves to the Desert Classic this week at PGA West and La Quinta, with first round tomorrow. If you are wondering when Tiger Woods is playing, since he had such a successful 2018 comeback (ranked No.13 in world now, won the Tour Championship, finished 2nd in the FedEx Cup, and contended in 2 major championships), the 43-year-old said he is still trying to figure that out. We can already guess that he will play all 4 majors, if able, since he has won majors at 3 of the courses: Augusta National (Masters), my old Bethpage Black (PGA), and Pebble Beach (US Open). He will probably play a little less, not the 18 official worldwide events he played in 2018, the most he had played since 2013, since you could tell he was pretty worn out by the Ryder Cup. He played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he hadn’t played since 2005. He will likely play in the Farmers Insurance Open next week, since it was always his launching point. His foundation runs the Genesis Open at Riviera 2/14-17, so he has to play there. I think he will play the Honda Classic here in Palm Beach Gardens, since it’s right down the street from his house, but analysts think he won’t. If he doesn’t play the Honda Classic, he may play the WGC-Mexico Championship (2/21-2/24), since he now qualifies for WGC events and there is no cut. It’s hard to imagine that he would skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational (3/7-3/10) since he has won at Bay Hill 8 times and tied for 5th in 2018. Then, it will be the Players Championship (3/14-3/17), as this was moved up from May to March. That’s all I’m guessing so far. I truly hopes he plays the Honda in his hometown, so we all can get to see him here. The European Tour is arguably the most innovative golf tour, trying out everything from night golf to shot clocks to even a rooftop tee box in recent years. But, this week, may top the innovations, as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship has a landfill hole! It probably wasn’t the original plan, but the 5th hole has a large landfill with plenty of household junk and furniture thrown in it, that players will have to navigate. Do you take a stroke penalty from a drop from patio furniture? Ian Poulter grabbed the early lead on Wednesday with a blistering 66 after 34 hours of travel. The Web.com tour season is underway in the Bahamas and Zecheng Dou is leading by 3. I actually watched some of that Great Exuma Classic tournament yesterday being played at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort. Over on the LPGA, the season is also starting, at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, where Rolex World No.1 Ariya Jutanugarn will actually be playing against her sister.

NCAA Basketball:

The college basketball season is nearly at its halfway point, about 15-17 games in. Friday, Maryland shocked No.22 Indiana. On Saturday, more upsets occurred, with No.12 UNC getting crushed by unranked Louisville, Kansas State edged No.20 Iowa State, No.14 Mississippi State fell to unranked rival Ole Miss, No.1 Duke eked by No.13 FSU with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win by 2pts, No.16 Ohio State was stunned by unranked Iowa, No.24 St. John’s was upset by old rival DePaul, and No.18 Kentucky had trouble with unranked Vanderbilt. Sunday, saw no upsets, with No.6 Michigan State crushing Penn State and No.2 Michigan crushing Northwestern. But, Monday, was the real shocker, when unranked Syracuse defeated No.1 Duke in OT. Unranked Pitt also upset No.11 FSU and No.25 Indiana was crushed by unranked Nebraska. Last night, the shockers were: No.11 NC State lost to unranked Wake Forest, No.4 Virginia crushed No.9 Virginia Tech, No.16 Ole Miss lost again this time to unranked LSU, and No.10 Nevada squeaked by by a point over unranked Boise State. Duke guard Tre Jones is out indefinitely after suffering shoulder injury against Syracuse. Duke star Zion Williamson missed the entire second half of the Duke vs FSU game. Star USC freshman Kevin Porter Jr. has ben suspended indefinitely, future is unclear. The son of Scottie Pippen, Scotty, has committed to Vanderbilt. Here is the AP Poll as of 01/13/19 (which does not include Monday’s upsets and has no movement in Top 10):

1. Duke (14-2)
2. Michigan (17-0)
3. Tennessee (14-1)
4. Virginia (15-0)
5. Gonzaga (16-2)
6. Michigan State (15-2)
7. Kansas (15-2)
8. Texas Tech (15-1)
9. Virginia Tech (14-1)
10. Nevada (16-1)
11. FSU (13-4) up from No.13
12. Kentucky (12-3) up from No.18
13. UNC (12-4) down from No.12
14. Auburn (12-3) down from No.11
15. Marquette (14-3) up from No.21
16. Buffalo (15-1) up from No.19
17. NC State (14-2) down from No.15
18. Mississippi (13-2) up from unranked
19. Maryland (15-3) up from unranked
20. Oklahoma (13-3) up from No.23
21. Houston (16-1) down from No.17
22. Villanova (13-4) up from unranked
23. Iowa (14-3) up from unranked
24. Mississippi State (12-3) way down from No.14
25. Indiana (12-5) down from No.22

On the women’s side, UConn women fell to Baylor in their first regular-season loss since 2014.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25 and is finally over with last night’s upset in the CFP Championship by No.2 Clemson over No.1 Alabama, 44-16. Alabama was just no match for the offense of Clemson and Alabama’s QB Tua threw 2 crucial interceptions that led to 14 points. I watched the game and many of the bowl games. Most of the bowl games were actually boring, low-scoring affairs.

AP finally released the final poll on 1/7/19:

1. Clemson (15-0) up from No.2
2. Alabama (14-1) down from No.1
3. Ohio State (13-1) up from No.5
4. Oklahoma (12-2)
5. Notre Dame (12-1) down from No.3
6. LSU (10-3) up from No.11
7. Georgia (11-3) down from No.6
8. Florida (10-3) up from No.10
9. Texas (10-4) up from No.14
10. Washington State (11-2) up from No.12
11. UCF (12-1) down from No.7
12. Kentucky (10-3) up from No.16
13. Washington (10-4) down from No.9
14. Michigan (10-3) down from No.8
15. Syracuse (10-3) up from No.17
16. Texas A&M (9-4) up from No.21
17. Penn State (9-4) down from No.13
18. Fresno State (12-2) up from No.19
19. Army West Point (11-1) up from No.22
20. West Virginia (8-4) down from No.15
21. Northwestern (9-5) up from unranked
22. Utah State (11-2) up from unranked
23. Boise State (10-3)
24. Cincinnati (11-2) up from unranked
25. Iowa (9-4) up from unranked

Here were the results of your 2018-19 College Football Playoff and Bowl schedule:

12/29 4:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
No.2 Clemson vs. No.3 Notre Dame

12/29 8:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Capital One Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama vs No.4 Oklahoma

01/07 8:00pm College Football Playoff National Championship
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA

12/15
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
North Carolina A&T 24
Alcorn State 22

New Mexico Bowl by Progressive
Utah State 52
North Texas 13

AutoNation Cure Bowl
Tulane 41
Louisiana 24

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State 31
Arizona State 20

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern 23
Eastern Michigan 21

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State 45
Middle Tennessee 13

12/18
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
UAB 37
Northern Illinois 13

12/19
DXL Frisco Bowl
Ohio 27
San Diego State 0

12/20
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall 38
South Florida 20

12/21
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
FIU 35
Toledo 32

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
BYU 49
Western Michigan 18

12/22
Jared Birmingham Bowl
Wake Forest 37
Memphis 34

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Army 70
Houston 14

Dollar General Bowl
Troy 42
Buffalo 32

SoFi Hawai’I Bowl
Louisiana Tech 31
Hawaii 14

12/26
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Boston College vs. Boise State
CANCELLED BECAUSE OF LIGHTNING

Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota 34
Georgia Tech 10

Cheez-It Bowl
TCU 10 (OT)
California 7

12/27
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Duke 56
Temple 27

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin 35
Miami 3

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Baylor 45
Vanderbilt 38

12/28
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Auburn 63
Purdue 14

Camping World Bowl
Syracuse 34
West Virginia 18

Valero Alamo Bowl
Washington State 28
Iowa State 26

12/29
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
No.10 Florida 41
No.7 Michigan 15

Belk Bowl
Virginia 28
South Carolina 0

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Nevada 16 (OT)
Arkansas State 13

CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl
No.2 Clemson 30
No.3 Notre Dame 3

CFP Semifinal Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama 45
No.4 Oklahoma 34

12/31
Military Bowl by Northrop Grumman
Cincinnati 35
Virginia Tech 31

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Stanford 14
Pittsburgh 13

Redbox Bowl
Oregon 7
Michigan State 6

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Oklahoma State 38
Missouri 33

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Northwestern 31
Utah 20

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Texas A&M 52
NC State 13

O1/01
Outback Bowl
Iowa 27
Mississippi State 22

VRBO Citrus Bowl
Kentucky 27
Penn State 24

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
No.11 LSU 40
No.8 UCF 32

Rose Bowl presented by NWML
No.6 Ohio State 28
Washington 23

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No.15 Texas 28
No.5 Georgia 21

01/07
CFP National Championship
No.2 Clemson 44
No.1 Alabama 16

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is nearing its end, as we just completed the Wild Card playoffs last weekend, which weren’t very exciting, frankly. Then, we had the Divisional Playoffs this past weekend, which were more exciting.

On Saturday, the Chiefs fairly easily beat the Colts in blizzard conditions 31-13. Later that day, the Rams and Cowboys played a sloppy game, and the Rams managed to hold on to beat the Cowboys 30-22. On Sunday, the Patriots dominated the Chargers on all fronts 41-28, and the Saints battled for a win over the Eagles 20-14.

Coming up this Sunday:

For the AFC Championship, the Patriots will visit the Chiefs, and Chiefs are 3 point favorites.

For the NFC Championship, the Saints will host the Rams, and the Saints are 3 ½ point favorites.

Winners of the two games will face each other in Super Bowl 53.

There were 8 NFL head coaches that lost their jobs this season. Patriots OC Josh McDaniels says he is staying in New England this time. Jags’ Jalen Ramsey mocked the Panthers hiring of former Jags coach Perry Fewell. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has decided to retire. The Cardinals have already hired a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury. The Bucs are focused on Bruce Arians as next head coach. A report says that Freddie Kitchens has “good chance of being Browns’ next coach. The Broncos have narrowed their coach search down to 2 candidates. The Jets stole coach Adam Gase from the Dolphins as their new head coach. Apparently, they were intrigued by his 23-25 record with the Dolphins. But, the Jets aren’t done there, also finalizing a contract with former Browns’ interim coach, Gregg Williams, to be their Defensive Coordinator. The Eagles continue to say that they are committed to Carson Wentz as their starting QB, despite the fact that last year QB Nick Foles led them to, and won the Super Bowl (Wentz was out with a torn ACL) and won Super Bowl MVP, and this year into the playoffs (Wentz out with stress fracture in back). In fact, the Eagles head coach bizarrely decided to announce, yesterday, that Wentz will be the starting QB in 2019 season, way ahead of when they needed to disclose that. This may lead to Nick Foles becoming the staring QB for another team in 2019, who values the work he has done. So, where is superstar WR Antonio Brown going to play in 2019? It looks like the 49ers and Broncos may be among the possibilities. The NFL players voted Saquon Barkley as Sporting News rookie of the year for 2018. Don’t forget, there is still a Pro Bowl to be played, the NFL’s version of the All-Star Game, but not in the middle of the season like the other 3 major sports, and not featuring the best players, but at least the 3rd and 4th best teams’ players. Because of the potential for injuries in this dangerous sport, the 2 teams vying for the Super Bowl will not send players the week before to the Pro Bowl and possibly lose them before the bigger game. Also, because of injuries, several players who were chosen for the Pro Bowl rosters are being replaced. The Chargers lead with 7 Pro Bowl players and the Chiefs and Steelers are tied for second with 6 players each. However, if the Chiefs beat the Patriots this weekend, they will not be sending QB Patrick Mohomes to the Pro Bowl. If it goes the other way around, the Pats will not send QB Tom Brady, who has been named to his 14th Pro Bowl, tying him with Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews, Merlin Olsen, and Tony Gonzalez. If the Pats go to the Super Bowl, it would be Brady’s 9th time in the Super Bowl, so that means he would have missed all but 5 of those 14 Pro Bowls. The AFC was supposed to have at QB, Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady, but as I said, either Mahomes or Brady won’t be there, and now Rivers is nursing an injury, so Andrew Luck of the Colts will be replacing him. On the NFC side, at QB, Aaron Rodgers will play, but either Rams Jared Goff or Saints Drew Brees won’t be there. Colts GM said that a trade offer for backup QB Jacoby Brissett, former backup for the Patriots, would have to “blow me away”. Saints RB Mark Ingram said he is “not looking just to leave”.

Okay, without thinking too much ahead or counting chickens that haven’t even hatched yet, since Saints QB Drew Brees turned 40-years-old on Tuesday, IF the Saints happen to face the Patriots in the Super Bowl, yet another record will fall, the total ages of the two QBs, at 81-years-old combined.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. We are just past the halfway point now, 47/48 games out of 82. The Sharks are seeking their 8th straight victory tonight, playing the Coyotes. The Bruins will try to continue their dominance of the Flyers tonight, as they are 6-0-2 against Philly in last 8 games, and 12-1-3 in the last 16 games against Philly. Predators Viktor Arvidsson and Sharks Tomas Hertl were the latest hat trick scorers, the 54th and 55th hat tricks of the 2018-19 season, the most through this point in the season since 1992-93, when there were 65. The Senators get Duchene and Chabot back today of DL. Pettersson may be returning to the Canucks. Canadiens Paul Byron will have a hearing with the NHL over his actions against the Panthers. Harrison Browne, the first transgender athlete in professional hockey (NWHL), dropped the ceremonial puck as the New York Rangers celebrated Pride Night. The NHL has revealed the All-Star Game rosters for 1/26 game in San Jose. Veteran Cogliano has been traded by Ducks to the Stars for Shore. The Ducks have lost 11 straight games. Joe Thornton scored in his 1,000th game with Sharks in win over Penguins. Here is how the standings look so far: in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning lead the NHL with 74 points, way ahead of Blue Jackets (59), Capitals (59), Leafs (58), Bruins (57), and Canadiens (57), with the Senators in the cellar at 17-24-5; and in the Western Conference, the Flames (64) have a close battle with the Sharks (63), Jets (62), Predators (60), and Knights (60), with the Kings in the cellar at 18-25-4.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. We are around 43-45 games in of the 82-game season. Nike unveiled their newest self-tying laces basketball sneakers, which you can adjust with your smartphone, and cost ONLY $350/pair. This was supposed to be the season of new Laker, LeBron James, and it certainly has an impact on the team he left, the Cavaliers, and their dreadful season, in dead last place. But, James im pact on the Lakers has been underwhelming, as he is on the disabled list with a major groin injury. Former teammate on the Heat, Dwyane Wade says he is “enjoying the process” in his final season of his career. Turkey is seeking an arrest warrant for Knicks’ Enes Kanter, for his outspoken criticism of Turkish President Erdogan. They are accusing Kanter of membership in a terror organization. I guess the Knicks have been called worse. Celtics in-fighting seems to be getting worse, as they seem to be underperforming, despite their cornucopia of talented players. Despite going 7 games in the NBA Finals last year, they are among 5 teams vying for the top 4 spots in the East.

The current standings are: in the East, the Raptors still have first place clenched in their Jurassic jaws, 1 game ahead of the Bucks, 3 games ahead of the Pacers, 4 games ahead of the Sixers, and now 7 games ahead of the Celtics, with LeBron’s old team the Cavs in the cellar at 9-35, 23 ½ games back; in the West, the Warriors are leading by ½ game over the Nuggets, 3 ½ games over the Thunder, 4 ½ games over the Rockets and Blazers, with the Suns in the cellar at 11-34, 19 ½ games back.

Tennis:

The first Grand Slam of the season has begun down under, with the Australian Open. Serena and Venus won their first matches.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. NASCAR’s 2019 season is about to start with Daytona 500 to kick it off, as it does every year. Stewart-Hass Racing has signed Daniel Suarez to drive No.41 car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. still has “the itch to race.” Kurt Busch signed with Chip Ganassi Racing after leaving Stewart-Haas. Here is the schedule of races just released for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 (they don’t have the sponsors or formal names of all of them yet):

2/17 Daytona 500 at Daytona International in Florida
2/24 Atlanta
3/3 Las Vegas
3/10 ISM Raceway
3/17 Auto Club
3/24 Martinsville
3/31 Texas
4/7 Bristol
4/13 Richmond
4/28 Talladega
5/5 Dover
5/11 Kansas
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte
5/26 Charlotte
6/2 Pocono
6/9 Michigan
6/23 Sonoma
6/30 Chicago
7/6 Daytona
7/13 Kentucky
7/21 New Hampshire
7/28 Pocono
8/4 Watkins Glen
8/11 Michigan
8/17 Bristol
9/1 Darlington
9/8 Indianapolis
9/15 Las Vegas playoff
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That is followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Then, there is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars):

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
3/24 Circuit of the Americas
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
5/26 Indianapolis 500
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2
6/8 Texas Grand Prix
6/23 Road America
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto
7/20 Iowa 300
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

Tuesday marked the 10th anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson”, when Captain Sullenberg saved 155 lives by landing his airplane in the Hudson River. US Airways hosted a party for the passengers and the Captain complete with champagne. A scary moment at the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta yesterday, as a Delta passenger accidentally managed to get a loaded pistol on an airplane to Tokyo. He realized it in-flight and reported it to the crew. But, the major concern, of all of us, is that the government shutdown, which is hitting TSA hard, may lead to breaks in security. These are just the sort of breaks that terrorists are likely closely watching for. Atlanta has now closed 6 security lines due to the government shutdown, so I would plan at least another half an hour to clear security there. In related news, Delta CEO said that the government shutdown has cost the airline $25 million. He also said that the shutdown may delay Delta’s first Airbus A220 flights. Allegiant is adding 16 new routes, including its first-ever Alaska flights. United Airlines’ new Polaris Lounge at LAX is basically a spa, but with tacos and wine. Palau’s famous lake filled with thousands of Golden jellyfish has finally reopened and tourists are allowed to swim with them again. I know you are wondering, so I’m here to help. You want to know how long you can keep up the Christmas decorations, given what a nightmare they were to put up. Most people would say that the 12 Days of Christmas, actual feasts in orthodox forms of Christianity, are a good guideline. But, then there is the Panhandle of Florida, where in many cases, Christmas lights stay up year-round. So, if it helps, Queen Elizabeth leaves her Christmas decorations up until February. WOW Air has launched its most affordable flights to Europe, with flights as low as $49 one-way. However, the airline has reduced its US cities to just 4. Spirit is making Raleigh-Durham its newest destination. Richard Branson, fresh after selling Virgin America to Alaska Airlines and buying a stake in Brightline Trains, is embarking on a cruise line with massive suites. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, with 561 passengers (and 31 crew) sick from norovirus has returned home to Port Canaveral. And, that was just after the cruise industry released figures on how norovirus was down this year. Oceania Cruises has ordered 2 new ships. Carnival is now delaying plans to cut free room service. Southwest Airlines had to cancel and delay flights amid Baltimore computer glitch for 4 hours at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. A 16-year-old passenger apparently slipped off Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas (sister ship to Oasis) ship’s balcony and fell on to a pier in Haiti. The French teenager apparently didn’t have his room card and attempted to enter his 8th-floor room from an adjacent balcony, slipped, and fell to his death. Scientists have created bendable concrete, which could be coming to building in an earthquake zone or to a road with severe winters.

Health News:

A biotech company’s pig vaccine is leading to a new Alzheimer’s disease approach. In Ohio, Mason schools will start 30 minutes later next school year, to boost students’ mental health. New measles outbreaks are putting kids at risk in many states and doctors are urging parents to vaccinate younger kids. There’s a growing amount of evidence that shows exercising in cold temperatures can burn more calories. Researchers say blood pressure and cholesterol drugs are showing promise in the treatment of Bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. In a new hormone replacement therapy study on blood clot risks, HRT tablets showed significantly more risk for women, than patches or gels. A recent study found that 1 in 10 adults have a food allergy, but more than 2 in 10 think that they do. This might be good for me: surgeons say a Calypso device may help relieve pain for people with osteoarthritis in their inner-knee region and eliminate the need for some knee replacement surgery. Researchers looking at “slow-wave sleep” said that its lack may cause a buildup of tau proteins in the brain and that the risk of Alzheimer’s may be higher in older adults with such sleep problems. The FDA, who is back at work, at least here in Florida, recently found one fifth of the avocados they tested were contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Experts say that children can suffer serious side effects from antipsychotic medications. Cervical cancer screening rate is low and experts believe that the screenings need to be made more convenient. Researchers are investigating an alpha-lipoic acid to see if it can help multiple sclerosis patients with gait and balance. Another one for me, possibly, a gel eye drop under development could reduce potentially sight-damaging scarring of the cornea caused by infection or injury. Eating breakfast every day can lower your risk for Type 2 Diabetes. There is a way you can help science, by becoming an “Immortal Corpse”—the Visible Human Project is looking for volunteers to donate their bodies to be sliced up into thousands of digital images for research. Tuberculosis kills 1.6 million people every year, more than HIV/AIDS and malaria, combined. But because other diseases keep grabbing the headlines, the chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson is helping drive an effort to change that.

Animal News:

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom has welcomed a new baby giraffe. In Charleston, SC, 10 German Shepherds rescued from an animal cruelty case have been adopted. Scientists are surprised by the complete fossil of Orobates pabsti found in Germany. The creature, about the size of a small dog, roamed Earth 300 million years ago. What is weird is that they have well-preserved fossil skeletons and fossilized footprints, so scientists have been able to re-create through computer simulation and using a real-life robot, what the animal’s gait would have been, and are astonished to find that it walked upright, like a caiman, very differently from the way other animals of this time walked more like salamanders. So, this represents advanced locomotion that has been for decades associated only with animals evolving millions of years later. The Animal Welfare Institute points out that shark fin is banned in 12 US states, but it’s still on the menu.

Entertainment News:

There are something like 36-40 major entertainment awards shows and I think we are in the middle of it, having just had the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, and the Peoples Choice Awards. When did they ever have so many ties? I said the exact same thing about this year’s NFL season. Alicia Keys was just named the host of the upcoming Grammy Awards. Maroon 5 finally committed to being the lead act at the Super Bowl halftime show. Broadway legend Carol Channing died 1/15 at age 97, 16 days before her 98th birthday. Famous for her Tony-award winning role in “Hello Dolly!”, which she portrayed almost 5,000 times, she was often on TV and in nightclubs, and for a long time partnered with comedian George Burns on national tours. She won 3 Tony Awards. Steven Spielberg has found a 17-year-old singer to play the role of Maria in his remake of WEST SIDE STORY. Former ESPN President, John Skipper, wants to build the Netflix of Sports and beat his old company at its own game. NBC’s star sportscaster, Bob Costas, announced that his NBC career is over, after reaching an agreement with the network, according to the NY Post. He intends to continue doing work for the MLB Network. In 2016, Costas stepped down from his iconic role as host of Olympic Game coverage, giving way to Mike Tirico, who joined NBC from ESPN. Costas has also stepped away from his role in NBC’s NFL coverage in Football Night in America. Saying that his role with NBC was “no longer a fit”, Costas negotiated out of the contract that ran through 2021. Michael Strahan says he wants to treat the National Champion Clemson football team to lobster, after President Trump served them fast food at the White House. Paris Jackson says she’s “feeling better than ever” after entering a treatment facility. Julia Roberts said she will not be returning for Season 2 of Homecoming. Ewan McGregor’s daughter Clara is calling him out on Instagram for leaving her mom Eve Mavrakis. Katharine McPhee is trying on wedding dresses, as she is engaged to David Foster. Kim Kardashian’s 1-year-old daughter, Chicago, just received a Mercedes G-Class that matches her mom’s, as a birthday gift from Aunt Kourtney Kardashian. Are these people for real? The Tonight Show heads to Puerto Rico with Lin-Manual Miranda and performances of “Hamilton”. Chris Pratt is engaged to Katherine Schwarzenegger. This is just weird, the former To Catch A Predator host, Chris Hansen, has been ARRESTED for a bounced $13,000 check.

The 50th Anniversary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival announced its lineup for 2019, on Tuesday. It begins on 4/25-28 and ends on 5/2-5/5. It’s a SICK list of entertainers:
• The Rolling Stones
• Dave Matthews Band
• Katy Perry
• Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
• Chris Stapleton
• Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
• Pitbull
• Van Morrison
• Al Green
• Logic
• Earth, Wind & Fire
• J Balvin
• Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue with Nevilles
• Glady Knight
• The Revivalists
• Leon Bridges
• John Fogerty
• Chaka Khan
• Herbie Hancock
• Tank and the Bangas
• Tom Jones
• Bonnie Raitt
• Ciara
• Alanis Morissette
• Irma Thomas
• Gary Clark Jr.
• The O’Jays
• The Head and the Heart
• The Doobie Brothers
• Jimmy Cliff
• Ziggy Marley
• Aaron Neville
• Boz Scaggs
• Galctic
• Jerry Lee Lewis
• Indigo Girls
• Rebirth Brass Band
• Mavis Staples
• Los Lobos
• Ellis Marsalis Family with Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason with Ellis
• Big Freedia
• Kamasi Washington
• Rita Coolidge
• Buddy Guy
• Preservation Hall Jazz Band
• Better Than Ezra
• Taj Mahal & the Phantom Blues Band
• Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
• Maze
• Ani DiFranco
• The Radiators
• Hurray for the Riff Raff
• Jonathan Butler and Gerald Albright
• Shirley Caesar
• Little Feat
• Gregory Porter
• Anders Osborne
• North Mississippi Allstars
• Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
• The Mavericks
• The Robert Cray Band
• The Subdudes
• Samantha Fish
• Jupiter & Okwess of Congo
• Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers
• Big Sam’s Funky Nation
• Sweet Crude
• Naturally 7
• The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
• The Rance Allen Band
• Boyfriend
• Regina Carter’s Southern Comfort
• Terrence Blanchard
• The Bahamas Revue Band
• Cecile McLorin Salvant
• Marc Broussard
• And about 60 others

Tom Cruise’s latest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: SKYFALL movie has made $791 million, so it’s no surprise that he announced that there will be another one coming out in Summer 2021, but it was a surprise that he announced another one will also be coming out in Summer 2022. The franchise has totaled globally $3.57 billion.

This week’s box-office was weak, perhaps due to the holiday at $102.4 million, down from last year’s $168.1 million. THE UPSIDE debuted and unseated AQUAMAN, making $20.4 million on a budget of $37.5 million; AQUAMAN, in its 4th week, managed to stay in the No.2 spot, making another $17.4 million (total now of an astounding $288 million); No.3 was the debut of A DOG’S WAY HOME (I must see this), which made $11.3 million (not bad for a budget of $18 million); No.4 was a return to the top 4 by SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, in its 5th week, with another $9 million (total $147.8 million on budget of $90 million); followed by No.5 ESCAPE ROOM, tumbling from No.2, with just $9 million in its 2nd week (but it has made $32.4 million on a $9 million budget).

The number of movies coming out this week is much lower, despite the holiday weekend: GLASS (which I want to see), AN ACCEPTABLE LOSS, ADULT LIFE SKILLS, DRAGON BALL SUPER: BROLY, THE HEIRESSES.

Technology & Space News:

According to NASA, 1/21 will be one of the sky’s “most dazzling shows, as the moon will be full and be at its closest point to Earth, making it a “Supermoon” (about 20% larger than normal). But, more importantly, it will also be a full lunar eclipse, something we haven’t seen in about 3 years, and because of the closeness to earth, it will appear reddish. Add to that, that it’s the full moon of January, which means it’s referred to as a “wolf moon”, and you have all the ingredients of a good Stephen King novel, a Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse. The spectacular event will be visible at 12:12 ET to people in North and South America, as well as people in western parts of Europe and Africa. Figures for overall sales this holiday season were just released and set a six-year high. US online gambling which seemed like a ‘sure bet’ a few months ago, hit a bad string of luck, as the Justice Department just reversed its 2011 interpretation of Federal law. Lotteries and online gambling companies are now being forced to handicap the impact. The US DOJ now says that the 1961 U.S. Wire Act bars all internet gambling that involves interstate transactions, reversing its call in 2011 that only sports betting was prohibited 50 years ago. So, how would an online gambling company know whether payments were routed through banks in another state? This will likely impact states that sell lottery tickets online and casinos that offer online gambling. And, we still haven’t gotten to the sports betting that seems to be a popular political topic in each state. Uber and other tech companies may have some issues with issuing IPOs, with the new state rules. What’s the next big thing…foldable smartphones! What? It has been about 10 years since the Razr was a popular device, but it is having a resurgence and now costs…$1500! Uh, oh…a medium-sized black hole actually casually wandered through the Milky Way galaxy?

US News:

Navajo Code Talker, Alfred K. Newman, has died at age 94, in New Mexico. President Trump has ordered thousands of federal employees, of the more than 800,000 impacted, back to work without pay to blunt shutdown disruption, representing about 25% of all US government workers. Congress is looking at blocking that by using the Amendment prohibiting “Indentured Servants”. The shutdown is having monumental ripple effects, including food banks being set up for Coast Guard bases and TSA employees at airports. Canadian air traffic controllers have been sending pizza to American air traffic controllers who aren’t getting paid. If you are keeping ‘score’, the shutdown began on 12/22, when the US Congress and President Trump could not agree on an appropriations bill to fund the operations of the Federal government for fiscal year 2019, or agree on a temporary resolution that would extend the deadline for passing such a bill (see ‘kicking the can down the road’). President Trump demanded $5.6 billion in federal funds to build a US/Mexico border wall. In December, Republican-controlled Senate passed an appropriations bill unanimously without Wall funding, and the bill appeared like it would be approved by then Republican-controlled House of Representatives. However, the House passed an appropriations bill, instead, with Wall funding, but the Senate never voted on it, with not enough support. Then, in January, the now Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the appropriations bill without Wall funding that the Senate had passed in December, but President Trump maintains that he will veto any bill without funding for the Wall. So, the Senate is not even considering the bill, even though it had originally passed it. We are now in our 26th day of shutdown, surpassing the 21-day shutdown of 1995-96, becoming the longest shutdown in US history.

International News:

Four Americans were reportedly killed in Islamic State attack in Syria. Yes, we have not yet pulled out of Syria. At least 14 people were killed in a terrorist attack within a Nairobi hotel by the militant group Al-Shabaab. In Poland, Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz died after being stabbed on stage at a charity concert. 15 people were killed when a Saha Airlines B-707 crashed on landing at Fath Air Base in Iran. In the midst of an ongoing constitutional crisis in Venezuela, the National Assembly is disputing incumbent President Nicolas Maduro’s victory in the May 2018 election and is declaring Juan Guaido as the acting President. Cape Town still has a major water crisis, one year later, as the underlying problems remain.

Florida:

Accused Parkland, FL school mass shooter was in court today. A Boca Raton woman called in a mass shooting threat for the K-9 Cigo memorial service attended by hundreds of police officers. The Breakers of Palm Beach is celebrating its 123rd birthday. If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting (I’ve added a lot of concerts since the last Repo Commentary):

Air Supply-Pompano, FL, January 11
Franki Valli and the Four Seasons-Fort Myers, January 11
New Order-Miami Beach, January 12
Englebert Humperdinck-Fort Myers, January 15
Bernadette Peters-Naples, January 16
Memories of Elvis-Fort Myers, January 17
Righteous Brothers-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Rick Springfield-Coconut Creek, January 18
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Arlo Guthrie-Fort Lauderdale, January 19
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14 (saw it, was awesome)
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Tony Orlando-Stuart, January 23
Gladys Knight-Fort Lauderdale, January 24
America-Fort Lauderdale, January 24
Smokey Robinson-Hollywood, January 25
Peter Cetera and Blood, Sweat, and Tears-Miami, January 26
Marc Anthony-Orlando, January 27
Toni Braxton-Hollywood, January 29
The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17

Repo Commentary-1/08/2019

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Okay, it’s time to focus back on work and the markets.

I announced in my 12/24/18 Repo Commentary that I am honored to have been selected to be the Chairman of the upcoming 25th (Silver Anniversary) IMN Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference 2/5-2/6 in Fort Lauderdale and to add my touch to make it fresh again. We are already shaking it up and including many more sectors of clients to participate, including pension funds, municipalities, money funds, hedge funds, asset managers, and GSEs. The focuses will be on alternative repo efforts, fintech, repo reinvestment AND securities lending, and women in the securities financing industry (although not necessarily in that order). I hope to see all of you there and I’ll be reaching out to many of you to participate, as it is less than a month away! I am very interested in adding 3 hedge fund panelists and a prime broker to a panel being moderated by a large Pension Plan, to discuss the demands in the hedge fund industry for borrowing securities from third-party lenders and their beneficial owners (like Pension Plans).

I was just informed that ISF Magazine put out an article on my Chairing the conference this morning on their website with a nice bio. Thank yuh very much!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.

01/08 Holidays or Events:

• Argyle Day
• Bubble Bath Day
• Earth’s Rotation Day
• National English Toffee Day
• National JoyGerm Day
• National Man Watcher’s Day
• National Poetry at Work Day
• Show and Tell Day at Work Day
• National Winter Skin Relief Day
• National Shop for Travel Day
• War on Poverty Day
• World Typing Day
• Midwife’s Day or Women’s Day
• Commonwealth Day in Northern Mariana Islands

I swear this is just a coincidence that I decided to write a Repo Commentary on what would have been Elvis Aaron Presley’s 84th Birthday and I happen to be an Elvis Tribute Artist since 1989. Pure coincidence! Elvis was born as a twin, with his brother Aaron dying during childbirth. You probably know that he was in 31 movies, has 711 recorded songs, sung nearly every genre from Gospel to Soul to Folk to Rock to Rock-a-billy to Opera to Country to Funk to Holiday, etc., had 18 No.1 hits (tying him with Madonna for the most), had 58 Gold or Platinum Records, and died at age 42 after accomplishing so much.

But, I just found out yesterday myself, from a very close musician friend who was in Gypsy Kings and was the lead guitarist for Jose Feliciano, that Elvis’s mother, Gladys, who he dearly loved, came from the Romani Smiths and the German Presslers, and when Roma first entered America, in fear of persecution, they called themselves the Black Dutch. So, Elvis has Gypsy blood in him on his mother’s side, which would explain his love for dance, his charm, his looks, his originality, and his Gypsy soul. It turns out that there have been many famous celebrities of Gypsy Romani blood, including actor Michael Caine, Charlie Chaplin, actor Yul Brynner, actor Bob Hoskins, painter Pablo Picasso, and Rita Hayworth.

Here are 6 other facts that you probably didn’t know about Elvis Presley:
• He failed his music class at Humes High School, but became the first person in his family to graduate high school, in 1953.
• Elvis had sandy blonde hair, which he began dyeing black in his late teens. Originally, he died it with black shoe polish, but when he came into stardom, began using a combination of Mink Brown by Paramount and Miss Clairol 51D Black Velvet.
• Elvis was only 22-years-old when he purchased Graceland, his Memphis mansion, for $102,500.
• During his lifetime, heavy-handed manager, Colonel Parker, allowed Elvis to only make one commercial endorsement, which was a 1954 ad for Southern Donuts. His close friend, Johnny Cash, also endorsed the donuts.
• Despite worldwide acclaim and global satellite-relayed concerts, like the Aloha Concert in 1973, Elvis never performed outside of the US during his career. The reason was that Colonel Parker wouldn’t allow him to, as Parker was afraid that he himself would not be allowed back into the US, as he was not a legal resident.
• The members of Led Zeppelin were huge Elvis fans and finally got to meet him in 1973 in Los Angeles. Bassist John Paul Jones and the rest of the band were speechless, so he complimented Elvis on his watch. Elvis responded by giving Jones the $5,000 watch and trading it for Jones’ watch, which was a Mickey Mouse watch that sold for about $5.

Some Famous People Born 01/08 in History:

• 1037-Su Dongpo, Chinese calligrapher and poet
• 1360-Ulrich von Jungingen, German Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights
• 1587-Johannes Fabricius, German astronomer and academic
• 1589-Ivan Gundulic, Croatian poet and playwright
• 1638-Elisabetta Sirani, Italian painter
• 1680-Sebastiano Conca, Italian painter
• 1735-John Carroll, American archbishop, founder of Georgetown University
• 1786-Nicholas Biddle, American banker
• 1792-Lowell Mason, American composer and educator
• 1812-Sigismond Thalberg, Swiss pianist and composer
• 1823-Alfed Russel Wallace, Welsh-English geographer, biologist, explorer
• 1824-Wilkie Collins, English novelist, playwright
• 1824-Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra, Mexican poet and composer
• 1830-Hans von Bulow, German pianist and composer
• 1852-James Milton Carroll, American pastor and author
• 1854-Fanny Bullock Workman, American mountaineer, geographer, and cartographer
• 1860-Emma Booth, English author
• 1862-Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publisher
• 1865-Winnaretta Singer, American philanthropist
• 1867-Emily Greene Balch, American economist and author, Nobel Prize laureate
• 1879-Charles Bryant, English-American actor and director
• 1883-Pavel Filonov, Russian painter and poet
• 1885-John Curtin, Australian journalist and politician, PM
• 1891-Walther Bothe, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
• 1894-Maximillian Kolbe, Polish martyr and saint
• 1896-Arthur Ford, American psychic, founded the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship
• 1897-Dennis Wheatley, English soldier and author
• 1900-Merlyn Myer, Australian philanthropist
• 1904-Tampa Red, American guitarist and songwriter
• 1908-William Hartnell, English actor
• 1909-Ashapoorna Devi, Indian author and poet
• 1909-Evelyn Wood, American author and educator, founder of speed reading
• 1911-Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress, dancer, and author
• 1912-Jose Ferrer, Puerto Rican-American actor and director
• 1915-Walker Cooper, American baseball
• 1917-Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor, American novelist and playwright
• 1920-Richard Benedict, American actor and director
• 1923-Larry Storch, American actor and comedian
• 1923-Giorgio Tozzi, American opera singer and actor
• 1923-Johnny Wardle, English cricketer
• 1924-Ron Moody, English actor and singer
• 1925-Mohan Rakesh, Indian author and playwright
• 1926-Hanae Mori, Japanese fashion designer
• 1926-Soupy Sales, American comedian and actor
• 1928-Luther Perkins, American country guitarist
• 1933-Charles Osgood, American soldier and journalist
• 1934-Gene Freese, American baseball player and manager
• 1934-Roy Kinnear, British actor
• 1935-Lewis H. Lapham, American publisher
• 1935-Elvis Presley, American singer, guitarist, and actor
• 1937-Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer
• 1938-Bob Eubanks, American game show host and producer
• 1939-Carolina Herrera, Venezuelan-American fashion designer
• 1940-Cristy Lane, American country and gospel singer
• 1942-Stephen Hawking, English physicist, futurist, and author
• 1946-Robby Krieger, American guitarist and songwriter
• 1947-David Bowie, English singer, songwriter, producer, and actor
• 1953-Bruce Sutter, American baseball player
• 1955-Mike Reno, Canadian singer and drummer
• 1959-Mike Harwood, Australian golfer
• 1959-Paul Hester, Australian drummer
• 1967-R. Kelly, American singer-songwriter, record producer, and former pro basketball player
• 1970-Rachel Friend, Australian actress and journalist
• 1971-Jason Giambi, American baseball player
• 1972-Paul Clement, English footballer, coach, and manager
• 1972-Giuseppe Favalli, Italian footballer
• 1973-Mike Cameron, American baseball player
• 1973-Henning Solberg, Norwegian race car driver
• 1973-Jason Stevens, Australian rugby league player and sportscaster
• 1976-Carl Pavano, American baseball player
• 1979-Sarah Polley, Canadian actress, director, and screenwriter
• 1982-Gaby Hoffmann, American actress
• 1984-Kim Jong-un, North Korean Supreme Leader
• 1986-David Silva, Spanish footballer
• 1992-Koke, Spanish footballer
• 2000-Noah Cyrus, American actress and singer

This Day in History (01/08):

• 307-Jin Huidi, Chinese emperor of the Jin Dynasty, is poisoned and succeeded by Jin Huaidi.
• 387-Siyaj K’ak’ conquers Waka.
• 871-Alfred the Great leads a West Saxon army to repel an invasion by Danelaw Vikings.
• 1297-Francois Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, lead his men to capture the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco, establishing his family as the rulers of Monaco.
• 1454-the papal bull Romanus Pontifex awards the Kingdom of Portugal exclusive trade and colonization rights to all of Africa south of Cape Bojador.
• 1499-Louis XII of France marries Anne of Brittany in accordance with a law set by his predecessor, Charles VIII.
• 1547-the first Lithuanian-language book, “Simple Words of Catechism”, is published in Konigsberg.
• 1735-premiere performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Ariodante” at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
• 1746-in the Second Jacobite rising: Bonnie Prince Charlie occupies Stirling.
• 1790-George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address in NYC.
• 1806-Cape Colony becomes a British colony.
• 1811-an unsuccessful slave revolt is led by Charles Deslondes in St. Charles and St. James, Louisiana.
• 1815-in the War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans-Andrew Jackson leads American forces in victory over the British.
• 1816-Sophie Germain wins the Paris Academy of Sciences’ Grand Prize for her mathematical work on Elasticity (physics).
• 1828-the Democratic Party of the United States is organized.
• 1835-the United States national debt is zero for the only time.
• 1863-American Civil War: Second Battle of Springfield.
• 1867-African American men are granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.
• 1877-Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle against the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain, Montana Territory.
• 1889-Herman Hollerith is issued US patent #395,791 for the “Art of Applying Statistics”-his punched card calculator.
• 1904-the Blackstone Library is dedicated, marking the beginning of the Chicago Public Library system.
• 1912-the African National Congress is founded.
• 1918-US President Woodrow Wilson announces his “Fourteen Points” for the aftermath of WWI.
• 1920-the steel strike of 1919 ends in a complete failure for the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers labor union.
• 1925-the All-Woman Supreme Court met for the first time in Texas, the first all-female supreme court in the history of the US.
• 1926-Crown Prince Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy ascends to the throne, the last monarch of Vietnam.
• 1926-Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud was crowned King of Hejaz.
• 1936-Kashf-e hijab decree is enforced by Reza Shah ordering the police to physically remove the Hijab from any woman in public.
• 1940-WWII: Britain introduces food rationing.
• 1945-WWII: Philippine Commonwealth troops under the Philippine Commonwealth Army units enter the province of Ilocos Sur in Northern Luzon and attack Japanese Imperial forces.
• 1956-Operation Auca: five US missionaries are killed by the Huarorani of Ecuador shortly after making contact with them.
• 1961-in France, a referendum supports Charles de Gaulle’s policies in Algeria.
• 1963-Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is exhibited in the US for the first time, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
• 1964-President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a “War of Poverty” in the United States.
• 1972-bowing to international pressure, President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto releases Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from prison, who had been arrested after declaring the independence of Bangladesh.
• 1973-Soviet space mission Luna 21 is launched.
• 1973-Watergate scandal: the trial of 7 men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.
• 1975-Ella T. Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, the first woman to serve as a Governor in the US other than by succeeding her husband.
• 1977-three bombs explode in Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union, within 37 minutes, killing seven. The bombings were attributed to an Armenian separatist group.
• 1979-Password Plus debuts on NBC.
• 1981-a local farmer reports a UFO sighting in Trans-en-Provence, France, claimed to be “perhaps the most completely and carefully documented sighting of all time.”
• 1982-the Breakup of the Bell System: AT&T agrees to divest itself of 22 subdivisions.
• 1989-Kegworth air disaster: British Midland Flight 92, a Boeing 737-400 crashes into the M1 motorway, killing 47 of the 126 people on board.
• 1994-Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 leaves for Mir. He would stay on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space.
• 1996-an Anotove An-32 cargo aircraft crashes into a crowded market in Kinshasa, Zaire, killing up to 223 on the ground and two of six crew members.
• 2002-President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act.
• 2003-Turkish Airlines Flight 634 crashes near Diyarbakir Airport, Turkey, killing the entire crew and 70 of the 75 passengers.
• 2003-Air Midwest Flight 5481 crashes at Charlotte-Douglas Airport, Charlotte, NC, killing all 21 people on board.
• 2004-the RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner ever built, is christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
• 2005-the nuclear sub USS San Francisco collides at full speed with an undersea mountain south of Guam, killing one man. The sub surfaces and is repaired.
• 2009-a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in northern Costa Rica kills 15 people and injures 32.
• 2010-gunmen from an offshoot the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda attack a bus carrying the Togo national football team on its way to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, killing three.
• 2011-the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and subsequent shooting in Casas Adobes, AZ, in which 5 people were shot dead.
• 2016-Joaquin Guzman, widely regarded as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker, is recaptured following his escape from a maximum security prison in Mexico.

Fun Fact of the Day:

In 2007, Mark Zuckerberg commissioned American street artist, David Choe, to paint murals for their office. Although he thought the Facebook business model was “ridiculous and pointless,” Choe, an avid gambler, chose to receive stock in lieu of cash. His shares of stock were valued at $200 million by the time of Facebook’s IPO in 2012.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“There are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing.”—President Herbert Hoover

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 10/5 closed at $74.34/barrel, $47.66/barrel on 12/23, and $48.63 yesterday (01/07). Although up about $1/barrel since Christmas, it still remains very low. The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station, which was $2.02/gallon on 12/24, versus 10/5’s $2.77/gallon, was $1.86/gallon on 01/07! The USD has been taking a beating versus other currencies, due to the budget impasse and current US government shutdown. versus the Yen was trading at $112.20 on 12/24, but now is $108.60, much weaker. The USD was at $1.1426 versus the Euro on 12/24, but yesterday was at $1.1478, a bit stronger. The USD was at $1.2655 against the British Pound on 12/24, but now is at $1.2770, weaker. The USD versus the CAD was $1.3442 on 12/24, and is now at $1.3297, weaker. Gold closed 10/5 at $1204.10/ounce, 12/24 at $1256.70/ounce, and yesterday (01/07) at $1288.85/ounce, reflecting the continued uncertainty of the markets and flight to gold. Bitcoin was trading at $8,185.21 on 7/25, at $6,350 on 10/5, and $3,774.97 on 12/24. Now, it is at $4,109.96. and was still above the magic $6000 figure at $6,350 on 10/5. Well, that apparently has broken through, trading yesterday at $3,7774.97. Litecoin founder is stoking a debate over ‘Bitcoin Extremists’ Tweets. UK Crypto Exchange Coinfloor will launch trading of physically delivered Bitcoin Futures. Somehow, that strikes me as ironic. Argentina says the NEM Foundation will develop a blockchain-powered copyright system for journalists. In India, a fourth suspect has been arrested following an alleged $71.6 million crypto scam. A Paris “Treasure Hunt” has a Bitcoin prize worth $1000 up for grabs in a wall mural. A Hong Kong entrepreneur has been accused of cheating investors in a crypto mining investment scheme. The CEO of Epic Games, which owns Fortnite, said the Fortnite store’s acceptance of altcoin Monero was accidental. Japan is gauging interest in a Bitcoin ETF. Nevada has issued almost 1,000 digital Marriage Certificates on Ethereum, proactively using blockchain technology, but government acceptance varies across different agencies. In 2017, Nevada became the first state to exempt blockchain transactions from tax obligations. Yesterday, cryptocurrency hardware wallet firm, Ledger, unveiled a new Bluetooth-based wallet. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security reportedly raided the office of a Michigan-based science and tech center last month during a crypto-related investigation.

Global Financial News:

Although the newly sworn-in, Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, agreed on a new US budget last week, the stalemate between President Trump and the Republican Party versus the congressional democrats has continued into its 17th day, making this the 3rd-longest government shutdown in US history (so far). Congress is out of session until today (01/08). President Trump said he was prepared to continue the partial government shutdown for “months or even years” over a spending package to fund 9 government agencies, unless he gets more than $5 billion toward the construction of a barrier wall along the U.S. and Mexico border. President Trump also says that he now wants a “steel barrier”, rather than the concrete wall he had been asking for. Ironically, the Office of Management and Budget, on Sunday, said that the amount of money requested to build such a steel barrier would only fund about 234 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile border. President Trump confirmed to reporters in the Rose Garden on Friday that he had considered using extraordinary powers of the Presidency, such as declaring a national emergency, to redirect money for the Defense Department to the wall construction. As the shutdown drags on, more than 420,000 employees are working without a paycheck and 380,000 more have been furloughed from their departments, including NASA, FDA and the Commerce Department. These numbers do not include the 4.1 million government contractors (2017 figure), who also are impacted. Citadel is expanding its real estate in Park Avenue office tower, per the NY Post. Neiman Marcus settled their 2013 data breach case that affected thousands of customers for $1.5 million. Negotiators have decided to extend the US-Chinese trade talks for a third day. There is reportedly some progress in the talks, which is helping rally global stocks. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon sees the US economy slowing, but recession not looming. Federal Reserve’s December FOMC meeting minutes will be released today and heavily scrutinized. US Banks are beginning to issue contactless cards, which are common in other parts of the world. JPMorgan Chase says all its credit and debit cards will be contactless by year-end. Russell 2000 small-cap index is expected to see growth of nearly 16% in Q1 2019, compared with the same period last year, far ahead of S&P 500, according to data by Refinitiv and reported by WSJ. The index had a major, perhaps indiscriminate, pullback in December. It’s all the non-humans’ fault! Well, at least, that’s what an FT article purports, in saying that high-frequency trading without human intervention and perspective exacerbates market volatility, according to its active managers. JPMorgan Chase says that only about 10% of US trades are executed traditionally. World Bank says that India will remain the fastest-growing economy. GDP is forecast to expand 7.3% during this fiscal year and 7.5% in the following year, per its Global Economic Prospects report. After 2 years of significant catastrophic weather events in the US, investor appetite for catastrophe bonds appears to be waning, per the WSJ. The Supreme Court’s view on the Emulex case could set new M&A standards.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed at 26,656.77 on 9/20, closed at 26,447.05 on 10/5, and closed at 21,792.20 on 12/23. The slide continued, after I wrote the last Repo Commentary and as the US Government went into shutdown and the FOMC raised the Fed Funds target rate, hitting a low of 21,712.53 on 12/26. Since then, there have been some startling rebounds. On 12/27, it closed at 23,138.82, up the most I’ve ever seen it. It closed yesterday 1/7 at about 23,530, sort of finding some equilibrium. As I write this though, I see that the Dow is up 260 points today (1/8), Nasdaq is up 65 points today (1/8), and S&P 500 is up 20 points today (1/8). S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20 of 2,930.66, closing on 10/5 at 2,885.58, then on 12/26 at 2,467.70, in bear market territory. Yet, as of yesterday, 1/7, it had rebounded to 2,549.69 close. Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28 high of 8,030.04, closing 10/5 at 7,788.45, then 12/26 at 6,554.36. Yet, as of yesterday (1/7), it too had rebounded to close at 6,823.47. US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting, rose still higher after the meeting and then plummeted with the drop in Equities, and have continued to drop and even invert since. On 10/5, 2years closed at 2.88%, closed 12/18 at 2.65%, and closed yesterday at 2.53%; on 10/5, 3years closed at 2.99%, closed on 12/18 at 2.64%, and closed yesterday at 2.47% (inverted to 2years); on 10/5, 5years closed at 3.07%, closed on 12/18 at 2.65%, and closed yesterday at 2.49%; on 10/5, 7years closed at 3.18%, closed at 2.74% on 12/18, and closed yesterday at 2.60%; on 10/5, 10years closed at 3.23%, closed at 2.82% on 12/18, and just closed yesterday at 2.70%; and on 10/5, 30years closed at 3.40%, closed at 3.07% on 12/18, and just closed yesterday at 2.99%. I can’t believe how flat the curve is now with 2years-30years at 46bp.

Housing News:

By all measurements, the housing market cooled in 2018, and 2019 looks like it may be a difficult year for both buyers and sellers, according to analysts. Most analysts are predicting higher interest rates (although as we just saw above with Treasury yields, they have dramatically dropped since October, some down nearly ½%) and higher home prices, mainly because of less supply and higher labor and material costs. Both of those would be difficult for the housing market, but expected continued economic growth and increase in employment are supposed to prop up demand. I guess, if the housing market gets too unpredictable, that probably helps the renovation of existing homes and the various industries that support that. Analysts say, despite the delay following the Great Recession, the Millenials are now the biggest homebuyer group, particularly for entry-level homes, although supply is very limited. One thing homebuyers should be considering, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that they have a total debt-to-income ratio below 43%, when all is said and done. I think one thing to watch is the continued move from ownership to renting, houses and condos, as home price increases are likely to advance faster than wage growth. As 2018 ends, with lower existing and new home sales, as well as home prices, analysts still see the slowdown stopping short of a crash. Figures released Wednesday by the US Census Bureau show that almost 2.5 million people have moved to the state of Florida since 2010, up 13.3% in population. Florida remains the country’s 3rd most populous state. Florida’s growth rate in the last year was 1.5%, only surpassed by Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

Repo News:  

When I last wrote before Christmas, the repo market was showing resilience after yet another Fed tightening, with GC Overnight trading well-below the expected 2.60% rate, probably due to some GSE cash still being in the system. At the time, we were heading into year-end and were seeing some minor year-end balance sheet and funding pressures. Scott Skyrm saw the Turn at the time as 12/31-1/2 at 3.10%/3.00%.

Well, things didn’t TURN out that way at all. Liquidity, which everyone said was in abundance, shriveled up. Somehow, it shriveled up BOTH ways. Broker/dealers had difficulty financing and the O/N GC rate went north of 6.00%, and collateral providers struggled to find balance sheet at broker/dealers. But, somehow, at the same time, cash providers couldn’t find enough collateral at the broker/dealers and were forced to absorb rates that were so low, hundreds of bp away from 6.00%, that they actually went to the Fed’s dormant RRP program (averaging $11 billion and frequently near zero) and took down a hefty $43 billion at sub-repo rates. We haven’t seen such a disjointed year-end in years. And, it’s ironic that it came right after the regulators and the media went on about how liquidity had returned to the Repo market and everything was fine now.

Remember, on 12/24, I wrote this in the Repo Commentary, which now is prescient of what happened at year-end, and possibly what now actually exists:

“I will say that I saw a provocative piece by my old friend, Steve Malekian, regarding Liquidity Assumptions in the Repo Market. I have been seeing several articles about how 10 years now from the events of the Financial Crisis or Great Recession, we have now returned to some kind of ‘normalcy’. The banks are much better capitalized, forced to be so by over 300 regulations slapped on them and forced deleveraging to all market participants. Many people have been remarking how liquidity has returned to the market and is in abundant supply now. Now, I don’t know about you, but I see deleveraging and increased liquidity as an issue in semantics and timing. If you force people to slash their use of liquidity by as much as 60%, and it is still technically there, then there’s sort of more liquidity.

On the counterparty credit risk side, regulators certainly got things more transparent and eased questions about bank solvency, although the ‘too big to fail’ thing still lurks. There are less participants and the larger ones have crowded out some of the smaller ones. But, at what price was counterparty credit risk at banks reduced? Concentrating that risk into one, two, or three CCPs, may have reduced one counterparty credit risk, just to increase credit risk and concentration risk among only a few institutions. I remember one of the smartest money funds had told me that they now look at the CCPs’ membership lists and their waterfall provisions very carefully.

Anyway, Steve points out that bank balance sheets were slashed and client coverage was culled. As bank capital has been reallocated now back to the Repo Desks, for their smooth revenue stream, its allocation among clients is very different than it used to be. So, if you happened to be a client in the rare category of platinum (in terms of size and doing many of the product lines of that bank), you now are seeing more liquidity from that bank. But, if you are smaller or only doing repo or only doing thinner bid/offer spread repo, you are not receiving the prior liquidity or you are seeing much wider bid/offer spreads.

Remember that liquidity and balance sheet are fickle things that can change pretty suddenly. So, is liquidity overall up? Or, is this time different?

Anyway, I’ve paraphrased Steve, perhaps not perfectly, and added some of my own thoughts just to provoke discussion.”

Well, that’s scary, even to me! The problem seems to be that the Fed added all of these tools to provide liquidity but only to take cash out of the system with their RRP, not ADD cash to the system to keep rates down and to provide liquidity to collateral providers or to broker/dealers. Maybe, the liquidity really has moved to just the Platinum customers. I would also like to know more about how SOFR, a median of Triparty Repo rates from broker/dealers to cash providers missed by so much the actual average repo rate of the market? Is it because it missed the bilateral trades or is it because it only focuses on the Offer Side of the market, or both?

I’m hearing from several sources that the sponsored repo program at FICC, Direct Repo at AVM, Elixium electronic platform, GLMX electronic platform, EUREX CCP, peer-to-peer OTC financing, and BONY’s DBVX are all making headway and volumes are up, although still below 5% of the overall European and US repo markets. I’ll give you more of my thoughts on all that in the next Repo Commentary (otherwise, I’ll never finish this and all the other news will be old!). But, in the meantime, Risk ran an interesting article on a survey of banks that were hesitating to sign on to vendors who offered connections to electronic trading platforms because they don’t want additional services, such as order routing and analytics, which are often bundled in.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences:
 

• Finadium will hold a webinar on moving to SOFR, SONIA, and ESTER, the three principal LIBOR alternatives, on 1/15.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I have been chosen as the Chairman.
• Finadium will hold a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN will hold its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• RMA will hold its 16th annual PASLA/RMA Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia on 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA will hold its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• IMN will hold its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Repo & Securities Lending Conference in Boca Raton, FL in October.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC in November.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 2.50%, where it had been set on 12/13 FOMC meeting tightening of 25bp.

The next FOMC meetings are: 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

The Federal Reserve will propose a rule this year to simplify the stress tests for regional banks and to reduce their frequency, per Randal Quarles. The rule would apply to banks with $100 billion-$250 billion in assets. Nellie Lang, a former economist at the Fed, has withdrawn from consideration to be a governor at the Fed.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

I was looking at the USGS latest map on the largest earthquakes of the last 30 days, and they have mostly occurred in a ring around the Pacific Ocean. The latest earthquakes:

1/08/19 6.3 16km SSE of Nishinoomote, Japan
1/06/19 6.6 151km WNW of Tobelo, Indonesia
1/05/19 6.8 89km W of Taruaca, Brazil
1/01/19 5.0 11km NNW of Anchorage, Alaska
12/29/18 7.0 83km ESE of Pndaguitan, Philippines
12/27/18 4.9 17km NW of Anchorage, Alaska
12/27/18 5.5 5km ENE of San Diego, Venezuela
12/26/18 5.0 2km ENE of Trecastagni, Italy
12/23/18 6.4 94km N of Nuku’alofa, Tonga

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st and ended November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted that this season would be a busy, above average hurricane season. They had predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. There were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. In 2017, they were way off the wrong way as well, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here were the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene done
Isaac done
Joyce done
Kirk done
Leslie done
Michael done
Nadine done
Oscar done
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ended 11/1/18.

As for the weather, those of you who are visiting Florida for the holidays have missed our brief two one-day cold fronts, which brought temps down to the 50s and 60s and had everyone here scurrying for ski clothes. Last week, we broke record highs, with temps in the mid-80s. This week, temperatures have returned to the high 70s and the wind has diminished quite a bit. However, we have 3 mini-cold fronts coming, starting tomorrow, which could bring the temps down to the 40s at night. The National Weather Service is calling for heavy snow for northern New England through tomorrow, along with very cold temperatures. You apparently have a ‘complex cyclonic vortex’ There is another disturbance coming from the Great Lakes eastward. Meanwhile, another very large and powerful Pacific Storm is expected to impact the West with more heavy rain, mountain snow, and gusty winds. Over the central part of the country, Chinook winds will bring a quick warm up in the northern High Plains. Moisture will gather across Texas and move into Oklahoma. Weather forecasting has been impacted by the US government shutdown, reducing all non-essential personnel at NOAA and at the National Weather Service, and blocking all the data that they would be collecting.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season ended in November with the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. But, fear not baseball fans, as the MLB has announced the earliest Opening Day ever for 2019, with all 30 teams playing on 3/28/19. They are not counting the first game of the season, between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, that will occur in Tokyo on March 20-21. The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox will play the Yankees in London, for the first-ever MLB games in Europe, on 6/29-6/30. Spring Training will begin 2/21 with the first game between the Mariners and the A’s in the Cactus League. The Grapefruit League kicks off 2/22 with a game between the Rays and the Phillies.

Sporting News announced its MLB Player of the Year as Red Sox Mookie Betts. The offseason Free Agency Hot Stove has begun in full force. The two biggest star free agents and likely largest contracts are Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

Two-time Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, is all over the news in trade rumors from the Indians to as many as 5 teams, including the Yankees, Padres, Braves, Dodgers, and still the Indians. Are the Indians really going to trade an ace, like Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer? Nats free agent pitcher Kelvin Herrera has agreed to a deal with the White Sox. The White Sox also reportedly signed Manny Machado’s close friend Jon Jay. The White Sox are one of the teams to have a deal on the table for Manny Machado in the $220-270 million range. Is Manny Machado ever going to pick a team? The Phillies and Bryce Harper will meet face-to-face in Las Vegas. Is Bryce Harper ever going to get the money he thinks he deserves from the Phillies, Dodgers, White Sox, or Cubs? The Giants and Brewers are reportedly talking about a deal for Madison Bumgarner. The Mets sent catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Indians. There are many teams that would love Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto and he wants to leave Miami, but the marlins don’t want him to go. It appears that Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is becoming a little more reasonable and has stopped asking for a 6year/$100 million contract. MLB is partnering with DAZN to create live look-in show for baseball fans. David Wright will now join Mets front office as special adviser. The ballots have been cast by eligible BBWAA members by 12/31/18 for the Hall of Fame and we will find out the results on 1/22/19. Many people are wondering whether Oklahoma QB and Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray, will choose MLB or NFL, after the A’s chose him with the No.9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and gave him a signing bonus of almost $5 million.

Golf:

Golf Digest has released its latest list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. Stephen Curry’s golf event next fall has been scrapped by the PGA Tour, citing too short a timeframe to find a title sponsor. Vijay Singh has finally settled his lawsuit with the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour season began with its swing through Hawaii. They just played the Sentry Tournament of Champions event at Kapalua in Maui. It was won by Xander Schauffele, with an astounding 62 on Sunday. This week they play the Sony Open in Oahu in Honolulu at the Waialae CC. Padraig Harrington has been chosen as Europe captain for 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI.

NCAA Basketball:

The college basketball season is nearly at its halfway point, about 13-15 games in. UNC’s Cameron Johnson left the game vs NC State with an injury. Former Arizona assistant Book Richardson reached a plea deal in bribery case. Kansas is considering pulling redshirt off of 4-star freshman Ochai, as Kansas center Udoka Azubuike will miss the rest of the season with a hand injury. Duke’s Zion Williamson rates his crazy 360-degree dunk this week as just a ’7 or 8’. No.6 Nevada was routed by unranked New Mexico in first loss of season. No.5 Kansas was stunned by unranked Iowa State. Powerful UCLA boosters want Rick Pitino as coach. UCLA fired basketball coach Steve Alford. Former USC assistant Tony Bland entered guilty plea. A TCU basketball game was canceled after the death of a player on the schedule opponent team. Larry Brown has parted ways with the Italian professional team. Purdue paid tribute to late superfan Tyler Trent with emotional video. No.18 Arizona State handed No.1 Kansas its first loss. No.19 Kentucky beat No.9 UNC. Here is the AP Poll as of 01/06/19 (which does not include Michigan State’s drubbing of Purdue last night, or UNC’s beating of rival NC State last night):

1. Duke (13-1)
2. Michigan (15-0)
3. Tennessee (13-1)
4. Virginia (13-0)
5. Gonzaga (14-2) up from No.7
6. Michigan State (14-2) up from No.8
7. Kansas (12-2) down from No.5
8. Texas Tech (14-1) up from No.11
9. Virginia Tech (13-1) up from No.10
10. Nevada (14-1) up from No.6
11. Auburn (11-2) up from No.12
12. North Carolina (12-3) up from No.15
13. FSU (12-2) down from No.9
14. Mississippi State (12-2) up from No.17
15. NC State (13-2) up from No.18
16. Ohio State (12-2) down from No.14
17. Houston (15-0) up from No.19
18. Kentucky (11-3) down from No.13
19. Buffalo (14-1) up from No.20
20. Iowa State (12-3) up from unranked
21. Marquette (12-3) down from No.18
22. Indiana (12-3) down from No.21
23. Oklahoma (12-3)
24. St. John’s (14-2) up from unranked
25. TCU (12-1) up from unranked
On the women’s side, UConn women fell to Baylor in their first regular-season loss since 2014.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25 and is finally over with last night’s upset in the CFP Championship by No.2 Clemson over No.1 Alabama, 44-16. Alabama was just no match for the offense of Clemson and Alabama’s QB Tua threw 2 crucial interceptions that led to 14 points. I watched the game and many of the bowl games. Most of the bowl games were actually boring, low-scoring affairs.

As of 12/1, the official AP Poll is (they have not produced the final poll yet):

1. Alabama (13-0)
2. Clemson (13-0)
3. Notre Dame (12-0)
4. Oklahoma (12-1)
5. Ohio State (12-1)
6. Georgia (11-2)
7. UCF (12-0)
8. Michigan (10-2)
9. Washington (10-3)
10. Florida (9-3)
11. LSU (9-3)
12. Washington State (10-2)
13. Penn State (9-3)
14. Texas (9-4)
15. West Virginia (8-3)
16. Kentucky (9-3)
17. Syracuse (9-3)
18. Mississippi State (8-4)
19. Fresno State (12-2)
20. Utah (9-4)
21. Texas A&M (8-4)
22. Army (10-2)
23. Boise State (10-3)
24. Missouri (8-4)
25. Iowa State (8-4)

Here is your 2018-19 College Football Playoff and Bowl schedule:

12/29 4:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
No.2 Clemson vs. No.3 Notre Dame

12/29 8:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Capital One Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama vs No.4 Oklahoma

01/07 8:00pm College Football Playoff National Championship
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA

12/15
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
North Carolina A&T 24
Alcorn State 22

New Mexico Bowl by Progressive
Utah State 52
North Texas 13

AutoNation Cure Bowl
Tulane 41
Louisiana 24

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State 31
Arizona State 20

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern 23
Eastern Michigan 21

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State 45
Middle Tennessee 13

12/18
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
UAB 37
Northern Illinois 13

12/19
DXL Frisco Bowl
Ohio 27
San Diego State 0

12/20
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall 38
South Florida 20

12/21
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
FIU 35
Toledo 32

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
BYU 49
Western Michigan 18

12/22
Jared Birmingham Bowl
Wake Forest 37
Memphis 34

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Army 70
Houston 14

Dollar General Bowl
Troy 42
Buffalo 32

SoFi Hawai’I Bowl
Louisiana Tech 31
Hawaii 14

12/26
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Boston College vs. Boise State
CANCELLED BECAUSE OF LIGHTNING

Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota 34
Georgia Tech 10

Cheez-It Bowl
TCU 10 (OT)
California 7

12/27
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Duke 56
Temple 27

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin 35
Miami 3

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Baylor 45
Vanderbilt 38

12/28
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Auburn 63
Purdue 14

Camping World Bowl
Syracuse 34
West Virginia 18

Valero Alamo Bowl
Washington State 28
Iowa State 26

12/29
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
No.10 Florida 41
No.7 Michigan 15

Belk Bowl
Virginia 28
South Carolina 0

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Nevada 16 (OT)
Arkansas State 13

CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl
No.2 Clemson 30
No.3 Notre Dame 3

CFP Semifinal Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama 45
No.4 Oklahoma 34

12/31
Military Bowl by Northrop Grumman
Cincinnati 35
Virginia Tech 31

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Stanford 14
Pittsburgh 13

Redbox Bowl
Oregon 7
Michigan State 6

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Oklahoma State 38
Missouri 33

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Northwestern 31
Utah 20

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Texas A&M 52
NC State 13

O1/01
Outback Bowl
Iowa 27
Mississippi State 22

VRBO Citrus Bowl
Kentucky 27
Penn State 24

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
No.11 LSU 40
No.8 UCF 32

Rose Bowl presented by NWML
No.6 Ohio State 28
Washington 23

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No.15 Texas 28
No.5 Georgia 21

01/07
CFP National Championship
No.2 Clemson 44
No.1 Alabama 16

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is nearing its end, as we just completed the Wild Card playoffs weekend. They weren’t very exciting, frankly.

On Saturday, the Colts continued their hot streak, beating the Texans 21-7 in the AFC. Later that day, the Cowboys squeaked out a victory 24-22 over the Seahawks in the NFC. On Sunday, the Chargers held off the Ravens for a 23-17 victory in the AFC. Later that day, the Bears were stunned by the Super Bowl Champion Eagles 16-15 in the NFC, as the Bears’ kicker, Cody Parker, donked his 6th field goal attempt off the upright this season, which would have been the last second game-winner. That must be some kind of record?

Coming up this weekend:
On Saturday, the Colts will play at the Chiefs in the AFC and the Cowboys will play at the Rams in the NFC.
On Sunday, the Chargers will play at the Patriots in the AFC and the Eagles will play at the Saints in the NFC.
The winners of these 4 games will go to the AFC Championship and NFC Championship to decide the two teams for the Super Bowl. Rams RB Todd Gurley is still nursing a knee injury but is expected to play against Cowboys. Sarah Thomas will become the first woman NFL referee to ref a playoff game, in the Chargers vs. Patriots game.

There were 8 NFL head coaches that lost their jobs this season. Patriots OC Josh McDaniels says he is staying in New England this time. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has decided to retire. The Cardinals have already hired a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury. The Bucs are focused on Bruce Arians as next head coach. A report says that Freddie Kitchens has “good chance of being Browns’ next coach. The Broncos have narrowed their coach search down to 2 candidates. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones reportedly just splurged on a $250 million superyacht. Jadeveon Clowney says he wants to remain a Texan. Texas WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey has decided to forgo his senior season and go into the NFL Draft. Steelers’ WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has replaced WR Antonio Brown in the Pro Bowl. Because of the early season trade with the Raiders, the Bears’ loss gave the Raiders a better first-round draft pick.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. We are just past the halfway point now. Nick Schmaltz of the Coyotes will be out for the rest of the season. Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson is out with an MCL sprain. Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby rewarded heckling fan with a signed hockey stick. The NHL announced today that Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevkiy, who has been out a month with a foot injury and returned, will replace Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the 2019 All-Star Game in San Jose, CA. Alex Ovechkin says he will skip the All-Star game. The NHL and NHLPA will meet this week to discuss CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). At the 2019 World Under-20 Juniors, one team was decidedly missing from the medal stand, Canada. They won the gold medal last year. This year, Finland rallied with a tying goal in the final minute of regulation and a winning goal in OT to eliminate Canada in Vancouver. It marked the first time that Team Canada did not earn a medal in the 13 times they have hosted the popular event. In the last 10 years, Canada has only won gold twice, while the Russians and Americans have won gold 5 times and 4 times respectively, and are still in the mix for a medal this year. Top-seeded Sweden was also upset, by Switzerland. In case you missed New Year’s Day’s Winter Classic outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium, the stadium ran out of food and beer during the game. Huge lack of preparation, eh? They had a sellout crowd of 76,126 fans, who ran out of provisions after the first intermission, between periods 1 and 2. By the way, my Bruins won.

Looking at the current, just past halfway standings, in the Eastern Conference: the Lightning continue to run away with it, followed by the Leafs, Capitals, and Bruins/Penguins; and in the Western Conference: it’s the Flames, followed by the Knights, Predators, and Sharks. The cellars are occupied by the Senators and the Kings.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well and it has been all about LeBron James’ debut with the Lakers. The NBA trade deadline is 2/7. Free Agency is upon us now though. Teams have inquired about 76ers star Jimmy Butler. Cavs Kevin Love says he doesn’t want to be traded. The Raptors approached Thunder about DeMar DeRozan-Paul George trade last offseason. Celtics Jayson Tatum is being talked about in a trade to the Pelicans. Stephen Curry was called for a ‘traveling violation’ for a James Harden-like stepback into a 3-pointer, Harden’s signature move that never gets called. Meanwhile, James Harden has been red hot. Kyrie Irving is happy to be back playing for the Celtics. The Bulls waived Michael Carter-Williams after acquiring him from the Rockets. Mutliple teams have inquired about Knicks Enes Kanter. Cavs waived Patrick McCaw. Next year, the Nets and Lakers will play preseason games in China. We are almost halfway through the season and currently the Eastern Conference is led by the Bucks, then Raptors, Pacers, and 76ers; while the Western Conference is led by the Nuggets, Warriors, Thunder, and Clippers. The two cellars are occupied by the Cavaliers (shocking!) and Suns. The Cavs have lost 9 games in a row.
Darts:

In darts, Michael van Gerwen defeated Michael Smith to win the PDC World Championship. I watched a bit of that.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. NASCAR’s 2019 season is about to start with Daytona 500 to kick it off, as it does every year. Stewart-Hass Racing has signed Daniel Suarez to drive No.41 car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. still has “the itch to race.” Kurt Busch signed with Chip Ganassi Racing after leaving Stewart-Haas. Here is the schedule of races just released for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 (they don’t have the sponsors or formal names of all of them yet):

2/17 Daytona 500 at Daytona International in Florida
2/24 Atlanta
3/3 Las Vegas
3/10 ISM Raceway
3/17 Auto Club
3/24 Martinsville
3/31 Texas
4/7 Bristol
4/13 Richmond
4/28 Talladega
5/5 Dover
5/11 Kansas
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte
5/26 Charlotte
6/2 Pocono
6/9 Michigan
6/23 Sonoma
6/30 Chicago
7/6 Daytona
7/13 Kentucky
7/21 New Hampshire
7/28 Pocono
8/4 Watkins Glen
8/11 Michigan
8/17 Bristol
9/1 Darlington
9/8 Indianapolis
9/15 Las Vegas playoff
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That is followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Then, there is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars):

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
3/24 Circuit of the Americas
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
5/26 Indianapolis 500
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2
6/8 Texas Grand Prix
6/23 Road America
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto
7/20 Iowa 300
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

A train accident on the Great Belt Fixed Link in Denmark killed 8 passengers. Another drone has disrupted flights at another UK airport. Gatwick and Heathrow say they will now deploy anti-drone technology. Scientists believe that our Milky Way galaxy is on a course to collide with another galaxy, the Large Magellenic Cloud (is there no protocols for naming galaxies?), which will cause “cosmic fireworks”. If you are setting your watch for the event, that will be in 2 billion years, give or take. There is a South African Airbnb where you can sleep surrounded by over 70 lions. The cheapest ticket to Disneyland is now over $100, thanks to an unexpected price increase. Flights to Canada are about to get much cheaper. Flying is expected to get more dangerous, according to the Pilots Association, during the US government shutdown. Many of the TSA employees are now working without pay, and some of them are refusing to work, which should make security at airports more difficult. American Airlines somehow put people back on the same airplane after a mid-air electrical malfunction and then flew it again. Real Housewives of New York’s star Bethenny Frankel’s severe fish allergy forced a flight to turn around. Herb Kelleher, the beloved founder of Southwest Airlines, has died at age 87. A dream job is up for grabs to run an island off the coast of San Francisco for $130,000/year. The world’s largest truck stop is an oasis in Iowa. Hawaiian Airlines has dro0pped the Boeing 767. United Airlines is now flying the Boeing 787-10. Sun Country is expanding its routes by 19 and 7 cities. Oceania Cruises has ordered 2 new ships. Good news, stomach bug outbreaks, like Norovirus, are near a multiyear low. EDM cruise passengers were arrested on drug charges. Joshua Tree National Park will completely shut down during US government shutdown.

Health News:

Lessie Brown, the oldest person in the US, has died at age 114. She had attributed her longevity to eating a sweet potato nearly every single day of her life. Cancer killed fewer people in the US. We have had 25 straight years of falling cancer death rates. Doctors believe that the steady decline has been helped by anti-smoking campaigns, early detection protocols, and new treatment methods. One piece of bad news is that prostate cancer death rates, which had been also declining for two decades, have leveled off. Does that have anything to do with the 2011 health officials decision to stop recommending routine testing of men using the PSA blood test? The first child death from the flu has been reported in New Jersey. NYC has guaranteed health care for all its residents. The plan will not be funded by a tax increase and is not health care insurance. It plans to reduce costs by reducing emergency room visits and will focus on services such as geriatrics, pediatrics, OBGYN, and mental-health care. Reuters had a report that your insurance premiums may be going up due to climate change. I learned from a Millennial two weeks ago that they have changed the term “swingers” to “poly-amorous”. Somehow, he thought that was more socially acceptable sounding. Obesity surgery, according to a new study, has led to the emergence of new microbial strains. Researchers have discovered supplementing a normal, carbohydrate-rich diet with specific ketogenic agents may significantly delay tonic-clonic seizures. Researchers have now proven that the myth of Mona Lisa’s gaze, the Mona Lisa Effect, in which there is an impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image seem to follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture, is not true. A new study conducted on laboratory animals shows that exposure to cannabis and stress during adolescence may lead to long-term anxiety disorders in adulthood. Researchers report that adding a lysophospholipid form of EPA (LPC-EPA) to the diet can increase levels of EPA (Omega 3 Fatty Acid) level in the brain 100 times. Researchers have created a wireless, battery-free, biodegradable blood flow sensor. Academics have found that low functional connectivity of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex that is associated with the tendency to smoke is associated with increased impulsiveness and has high connectivity to another area of the brain, the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex, which in drinkers may increase the tendency to consume alcohol. A behavioral intervention procedure including the computer game Tetris could help people with PTSD. Costco is now selling a tub of Nutella that weighs almost 7 pounds, which you can store in your pantry next to the 5-gallon mustard. On the other side of the debate, minimalists like Marie Kondo say that cleaning out clutter and stuff is healthful, and most psychologists tend to agree. The first nudist restaurant in Paris, which just opened, is already clothing down. Herbalife’s stock plunged after CEO resigned. Oral-B Glide dental floss has been linked to toxic PFAS chemicals, per a new study. The US military is hoping that 3-D printing of bones can help injured veterans.

Animal News:

A new analysis of a nearly 200-million-year-old Jurassic-period sea-monster skull has surprised scientists because of the enormous size of its teeth and its apparent fake bones. Thousands of female penguins are being stranded in South America, washing up on the shores from Antarctica. A rare flying reptile (pterosaur) with a mouthful fangs trolled the Jurassic period skies, according to scientists. Scientists found the fossil of a dinosaur-era shark who had nabbed a flying reptile and lost a tooth in the encounter. Japan plans to leave the International Whaling Commission so that it can resume commercially hunting whales again, according to several news sources. The bee mite arrival in Hawaii is causing pathogen changes in honeybee predators. Scientists have also found the elusive mutation in honeybees that turns them from altruistic helpers to selfish behavior, called thelytoky syndrome. The CRISPR-based method is effectively sterilizing male insects. CRISPR is a revolutionary gene editing technique that may be helpful in combating some human diseases, such as muscular dystrophy. There is a new bat-borne virus related to Ebola. A new study suggests that surface mining of mountaintops in Appalachia also removes timber rattlesnakes’ habitat. A new species of treefrog was discovered at a remote mountain in the Ecuadorian Andes that has an extraordinary characteristic: claw-like appendages. An extensive social study has shown that human contact with monkeys and apes has a spillover effect to humans’ health through animal diseases. In other news, the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla has recently lost genetic diversity and has experienced an increase in harmful mutations, say researchers who have sequenced 11 genomes. A new study of interbreeding between two species of howler monkeys in Mexico is yielding insights into the forces that drive new species formation.

Entertainment News:

I still have not seen A STAR IS BORN, FIRST MAN, or BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, but I did see the Golden Globes on Sunday night, or at least part of it. Pete Davidson appears to have moved on to Kate Beckingsale. NBC will be airing a 50th anniversary special to commemorate Elvis Presley’s famous ’68 Comeback Special aired on NBC in 1968. This show will be hosted by Blake Shelton and will air on 2/17. Yes, today is Elvis Presley’s birthday, but it is also the birthday of singers Shirley Bassey and David Bowie. You can now enjoy some of Bowie’s previously unreleased songs on a “new” box set that features 9 songs Bowie recorded in the 1960s. At the National Board of Review awards in NY, best actress winner Lady Gaga revealed about re-opening old wounds of personal trauma that drove her role in A STAR IS BORN. After 3 women had come forward to report that super-chef Mario Batali sexually assaulted them years ago at 2 Manhattan restaurants where he was an owner or an investor, police are said to close the sexual allegations of the chef, because police could not find enough evidence to make an arrest, per the NYPD yesterday. As you’ve probably noticed, the new mini-season has begun on network TV, so the shows that ended for the summer, have come back. I’m getting frustrated with Manifest, as it appears that the writers are deliberately trying to be evasive about everything, to the point that it never seems to move forward. Plus, the messed up relationships are also stuck in neutral, never resolving themselves. I’ve tried to watch The Rock’s new Titan Games but it’s just too much like American Ninja, which wore me out with repeats and different iterations. Below Deck Caribbean (which is actually in Tahiti this season) has been entertaining, but I had a conversation with a real superyacht Captain, who said that stuff would never happen on a real yacht. There is no drama and everyone is professional or they are replaced. So, the TV boat is a made-for-TV experience filled with drama and poorly-trained professionals. So far, I’ve steered clear of all of the Housewives series, catching pieces of the Reunion shows and some of Vanderpump Rules. I seem to be watching a lot more of the Iron Chef shows, Chopping Block, Flip or Stay, and Million Dollar Listings of L.A. I did try to keep up with Chicago Med, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Fire, but moving them all to Wednesday night and not having them crossover much, wreaked havoc. So, I only see one of them every now and then. About the only things, besides NFL, news, and college basketball, that I’ve been following well have been 20/20, Entertainment Tonight, and Dateline. Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and wife are “rebuilding” their marriage after split. Jamie Lee Curtis is blasting Fiji Water for their Golden Globes promotions, which included having one particular model with bottles photo-bombing nearly every celebrity photo. By the way, those were fake flu shots that the Golden Globe hosts were distributing to the audience. Kim Kardashian just spent $9000 on Louis Vuitton bags for her babies. Sumner Redstone has reached a settlement with former live-in girlfriend. Longtime Cosmopolitan publisher, Donna Kalagian Lagani, is stepping down to take Hearst Foundations post. Gannett is looking outside the newspaper industry for a new CEO. I’m right here! Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” was the bestselling hardcover book in 2018. The Stan Lee “Excelsior!” tribute, hosted by Kevin Smith, will take place 1/30 at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. CardiB and Drake are dominating the iHeartRadio Music Awards nominations. Ivanka Trump was once asked to be The Bachelorette. Jordan Peele’s film US will premiere as the opening film at SXSW.

This week’s box-office was weak, perhaps due to the holiday hangover. AQUAMAN, in its 3rd week, retained the No.1 spot, making another $31 million (total now of an astounding $260 million); No.2 was the debut of ESCAPE ROOM, which made $18.2 million (not bad for a budget of $9 million); No.3 was MARY POPPINS RETURNS, in its 3rd week, pulling in another $15.9 million (total of $138.8 million so far, just clearing its $130 million budget); No.4 was BUMBLEBEE, dropping from No.3, in its 3rd week, taking in another $13.2 million (total of $97.6 million on a budget of $135 million); and No.5 was SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, in its 4th week, taking in another $13.1 million (total of $134 million on budget of $90 million). At his first fashion show in Rome, Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott paid homage to the films of director Federico Fellini. PATRIOT’S DAY, the movie starring Mark Wahlberg about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing received a $16 million subsidy from the State of Massachusetts, new records show. The state issued nearly $90 million film tax subsidies in 2016, a new record. After Friars Club raid, executive director has pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. Bob Saget and John Stamos went on a double date in West Hollywood.

The number of movies coming out this week picks up from the number the last 2 weeks: PETTA, MODEST HEROES, A DOG’S WAY HOME (I’m going to have to see), AGAINST THE CLOCK, ALONE IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT, ASHES IN THE SNOW, DO DOONI PANJ, DRY BLOOD, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, JACK EM POPDY, ON THE BASIS OF SEX (looks interesting), PERFECTOS DESCONOCIDOS, PLEDGE, REPLICAS, SGT. WILL GARDNER, TALL TALES, THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER, THE ASPERN PAPERS, THE UNTOLD STORY, THE UPSIDE, URI, WHAT MEN WANT, and F2: FUN AND FRUSTRATION.

Technology & Space News:

Elon Musk has broken ground at Tesla’s new Shanghai Gigafactory. Apple has cut its Q1 iPhone production by 10%. A new walking vehicle, called Elevate, has been unveiled at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics trade show, which is a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can drive autonomously and also walk on four wheels over rough terrain, perhaps to be used for emergency vehicles. It is still a concept car, only in its 3rd phase, at this time. Space X, last week, launched 3 more satellites for the US Air Force from NASA’s Cape Canaveral. The U.S. is currently experiencing one of the tightest labor markets in history, with unusually low unemployment rate (lowest in 50 years), and many say, a skills gap. Americans also quit their jobs last year at the highest rate since 2001. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. currently has over 7 million unfilled jobs. This has forced some companies to become more open-minded about hiring candidates. Companies, including Google, Apple, IBM, and Bank of America no longer require applicants to have a college degree. Tech companies, in particular are rather shifting towards a focus on skills. LinkedIn, after analyzing hundreds of thousands of job postings, said that these are the top 10 soft skills and hard skills in demand for 2019 (LinkedIn is also matching these skills with LinkedIn Learning courses for the month of January):

Top 5 Soft Skills:
1. Creativity
2. Persuasion
3. Collaboration
4. Adaptability
5. Time Management

Top 5 Hard Skills:
1. Cloud Computing
2. Artificial Intelligence
3. Analytical Reasoning
4. People Management
5. UX Design

WalletHub recently compared 182 cities, including the 150 most populated in the U.S. and at least 2 of the most populated in each state, across 30 job market and socioeconomic variables, to rank the 10 best places to find a job in 2019:
1. Scottsdale, AZ
2. Columbia, MD
3. Orlando, FL
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Colorado Springs, CO
6. Portland, ME
7. Plano, TX
8. Washington, D.C.
9. Boston, MA
10. Chandler, AZ

I think I wrote about the “Amazon effect” in the Repo Commentary before, if not, maybe it was in the book I just wrote. Anyway, in a weirdly related story, Google has turned an old shopping mall into an office. Amazon has been blamed by the media for killing brick-and-mortar stores and shopping malls, with its online shopping and acquisitions. It would be interesting if it or its tech giant brethren find a creative way to turn those empty shopping malls into their offices. There are now bounty hunters to find lost cellphones? The China National Space Administration’s Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon. Ah, the romance of the technology age, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced their divorce on Twitter.

US News:

President Trump issued an executive order last Friday that froze federal workers’ salaries for 2019. On 01/02/19, a single person in Glen Head, Long Island, NY won the Mega Millions’ jackpot of $425 million. That person gets to choose between taking the annuity spread over 30 years or a lump sum of $254.6 million. Of course, they will have to pay Federal tax withholding of 24% ($61.1 million) and NY State tax of 8.82% ($22.5 million). And, come next year’s tax time, the winner will owe an additional 13% Federal Tax (as they withheld 24% this year and the top tax rate is 37%). Altogether, the tax crunch will take more than 45% of the amount, unless they employ certain tax strategies. Speaking of taxes, a White House official said that, despite the current US government shutdown, tax refunds WILL be sent out. President Trump was on TV last night from the Oval Office to speak with the public about the need for a border wall. Newly sworn-in CA governor Newsom proposed $105 million in new spending to prevent, fight, and escape wildfires, following one of the state’s worst fire seasons. Judge Brett Kavanaugh issued his first (unanimous) opinion in an obscure arbitration case. A teacher seen dragging a boy with autism through Wurtland Elementary School has been fired. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is leaving his post at the Department of Justice. A second man has now been charged in the drive-by shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was laid to rest yesterday. Police believe the shooting may have been a case of ‘mistaken identity’. Sears stores will stay open another week, as a late deal staved off the threat of liquidation, but the auction is set for Monday. The company’s chairman has an opportunity to sweeten his $4.4 billion offer to keep 400 stores operating and buy the company. A Rhode Island discount retailer, Job Lot, is doing well and is now taking over 7 former Toys R’ Us sites in Pennsylvania. A rare 1943 Lincoln penny was found in a Massachusetts school cafeteria more than 70 years ago by a teenager, who recently died, and is expected to fetch $1.7 million at auction. It was one of only 20 pennies accidentally minted in copper that year, during the war effort. All of the other pennies that year were made of zinc-coated steel, to preserve copper for shell casings and other WWII implements. In Phoenix, police are seeking DNA samples from workers at a facility where a woman in a coma gave birth. The house of the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting has sold for $425,000.

International News:

Seven people are dead in a shooting at a Mexican bar in Playa del Carmen. Otto Warmbler’s parents have won their $500 million Wrongful Death lawsuit against North Korea for their son’s 2017 death after finally being released from captivity and torture. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to force North Korea to pay them. However, the Warmblers could go after North Korea’s assets in the US. It currently does have $63 million in assets frozen in the US. It may also have assets abroad through one of its clandestine trading methods in a country that is friendly to the US. In 2015, a US judge awarded $330 million to the family of missionary Rev. Kim Dong-Shik, who was tortured and killed in North Korea, and the family went after North Korea’s international assets, like shipping vessels that had been confiscated by Mexico and Panama. Another way that the Warmblers could get paid is by appealing to the US Department of Justice, which has a Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates families of victims of state terror. It is made up of fines imposed on financial institutions who continued to do business with countries that the US has sanctioned. But, that would only cover the compensatory damages, of $21 million, not punitive damages. A “fatberg” made up of wet wipes, grease, and oil, some 200 feet in length, is blocking a sewer in a seaside town in England. Saudi woman who is seeking asylum might find it in Australia. Secretary of State Pompeo made a surprise stop in Iraq. Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the ongoing schism within Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Moshe Arens, Israeli statesman and ex-defense minister, has died at age 93. The FBI revealed that the viral online footage showing “El Chapo” grilling a man chained to a pole about his competitors is indeed Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the cartel boss, helping solidify the case against him. The video was first uploaded to LiveLeak.com in 2015. Ironically, the interrogation was also caught on an FBI digital wiretap, as someone nearby attempted to place a call, and the recording of that call matches the video word for word. There have been no assurances from Turkey on safety of Kurdish allies in Syria, as the US plans to remove its troops from Syria. A new Saudi Arabia law requires women to be notified if their husbands divorce them. Thai police say they won’t deport Saudi teenager barricaded in hotel. Gabon has foiled an attempted military coup and arrested 4 military officers. An Escape Room fire killed 5 teenage girls in Poland. Hackers have posted personal information about hundreds of German politicians on Twitter. A Chinese “Jack the Ripper” has been executed for murdering 11 girls and women. Emotional and Psychological Abuse are now crimes in Ireland. Saudi Arabia says that 5 suspects now face the death penalty in Jamal Khashoggi killing.

Florida:

If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Air Supply-Pompano, FL, January 11
Franki Valli and the Four Seasons-Fort Myers, January 11
New Order-Miami Beach, January 12
Englebert Humperdinck-Fort Myers, January 15
Bernadette Peters-Naples, January 16
Memories of Elvis-Fort Myers, January 17
Righteous Brothers-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Rick Springfield-Coconut Creek, January 18
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Arlo Guthrie-Fort Lauderdale, January 19
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14 (saw it, was awesome)
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Tony Orlando-Stuart, January 23
Gladys Knight-Fort Lauderdale, January 24
America-Fort Lauderdale, January 24
Smokey Robinson-Hollywood, January 25
Peter Cetera and Blood, Sweat, and Tears-Miami, January 26
Toni Braxton-Hollywood, January 29
The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 15
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, March 17
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17

Repo Commentary-12/21/18

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Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season! Happy Hannukah (since it passed while I was on hiatus), Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year!

It’s been about 2 months since I wrote the last Repo Commentary (10/7/18). During that time, I saw many of you at the RMA Repo & Securities Lending Conference in October in Key Biscayne and others of you at the Finadium Rates & Repo Conference in November in NYC. I also ghostwrote a 220-page self-help/memoir book (first draft manuscript) for a paying associate in that 8-week hiatus from the Repo Commentary. None of you are in THIS one and it’s not about our industry. So, although I was busy on projects, I have also been keeping in touch with many of you and been lightly exploring job opportunities, itching to get back into the Repo market. My 36th anniversary of being in the Securities Finance market and on Wall Street passed 12/6/18. Oh, and I’ve been singing up a storm in the Elvis jumpsuits, as this is our busiest time of year. I have been singing concerts 2 or 3 times per week with my 5-part harmony group, Generation Gap, which recently was voted Best Harmony Group in Florida by InTouch Magazine. Next gigs are tonight at Tiramisu in Jupiter, FL, Saturday at Cucina Cabana in North Palm Beach, FL, and New Year’s Eve at Brookdale Assisted Living (my biggest fans) in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

I am honored to announce that I’ve been selected to be the Chairman of the upcoming 25th (Silver Anniversary) IMN Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference 2/5-2/6 in Fort Lauderdale and to add my touch to make it fresh again. We are already shaking it up and including many more sectors of clients to participate, including pension funds, municipalities, money funds, hedge funds, asset managers, and GSEs. The focuses will be on alternative repo efforts, fintech, repo reinvestment and securities lending, and women in the securities financing industry. I hope to see all of you there and I’ll be reaching out to many of you to participate.

Enough about me, I would also like to hear from all of you about what you’ve been up to since October or May?

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and I believe on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.

12/20/18 Holidays or Events:

• Cathode-Ray Tube Day
• Dot Your I’s Day
• Games Day
• Go Caroling Day
• Mudd Day (Dr. Samuel Mudd harbored President Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in his home, but “your name is mud” did not come from Dr. Mudd, although that is the popular story)
• International Human Solidarity Day
• Sacagawea Day
• National Regifting Day
• National Sangria Day
• Free Shipping Day at Participating Retail Stores
• Poet Laureate Day
• World Day of Prayer and Action for Children
• Abolition of Slavery Day in Reunion and French Guiana
• Bo Aung Kyaw Day in Myanmar
• Yalda in Iran
• Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
• Tomorrow, Friday at 5:23pm, is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (beginning of Winter) and Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere (beginning of Summer)

If you are like me, you are probably wondering why the US flags are currently at half staff. They will remain at half staff until sunset on 12/30/2018, in honor of recently departed President George H. W. Bush. You can always check for half staff proclamations at http://www.halfstaff.org.

Some Famous People Born 12/20 in History:

• 1868-Harvey Samuel Firestone-founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
• 1881-Branch Rickey-MLB
• 1898-Irene Dunne-American actress and singer
• 1908-Dennis Morgan-American actor and singer
• 1924-Charlie Callas-American actor and comedian
• 1927-Jim Simpson-American sportscaster
• 1939-Kim Weston-American soul singer
• 1940-Pat Chapman-English chef and author
• 1942-Bob Hayes-American track star and NFL player
• 1945-Peter Criss-American singer/songwriter/drummer/producer
• 1946-Uri Geller-Israeli-English magician and psychic
• 1946-Dick Wolf-American director/producer/screenwriter
• 1948-Alan Parsons-English keyboard player and producer-Alan Parsons Project
• 1949-Oscar Gamble-MLB
• 1956-Anita Ward-American disco/R&B singer
• 1957-Billy Bragg-English singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1958-Doug Nordquist-American high jumper
• 1959-Jackie Fox-The Runaways
• 1959-Trent Tucker-NBA
• 1965-Rich Gannon-NFL
• 1981-James Shields-MLB
• 1982-David Cook-American singer/songwriter/guitarist-American Idol
• 1983-Jonah Hill-American actor/producer/screenwriter
• 1990-JoJo-American singer and actress

This Day in History (12/20):

• AD 69-Vespasian, formerly a general under Nero, enters Rome to claim the title of Emperor.
• 1192-Richard I of England is captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after the Third Crusade.
• 1334-Pope Benedict XII is elected.
• 1522-Siege of Rhodes: Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually settle on Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta.
• 1606-The Virginia Company loads three ships with settlers and sets sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
• 1803-the Louisiana Purchase is completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.
• 1808-Peninsular War: the Siege of Zaragoza begins.
• 1832-HMS Ciio under the command of Captain Onslow arrives at Port Egmont under orders to take possession of the Falkland Islands.
• 1860-South Carolina becomes the first state to attempt to secede from the United States.
• 1915-WWI: the last Australian troops are evacuated from Gallipoli.
• 1917-Cheka, the first Soviet secret police force, is founded.
• 1924-Adolf Hitler is released from Landesberg Prison.
• 1941-WWII: first battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known at the “Flying Tigers” in Kunming, China.
• 1942-WWII: Japanese air forces bomb Calcutta, India.
• 1946-the popular Christmas movie, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, is first released in NYC.
• 1948-Indonesian National Revolution: the Dutch military captures Yogyakarta, the temporary capital of the newly-formed Republic of Indonesia.
• 1951-the EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho become the first nuclear power plant to generate electricity. The electricity only powered 4 light bulbs.
• 1952-a US Air Force C-124 crashes and burns in Moses Lake, WA, killing 87.
• 1955-Cardiff is proclaimed the capital city of Wales, United Kingdom.
• 1957-the initial production version of the Boing 707 makes its first flight.
• 1967-a Pennsylvania Railroad Budd Metroliner exceeds 155 mph on their New York Division, also present day Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
• 1968-the Zodiac Killer kills Betty Lou Jenson and David Farraday in Vallejo, CA.
• 1971-the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders is founded by Bernard Kouchner and a group of journalists in Paris, France.
• 1973-the PM of Spain, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, is assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid.
• 1984-the Summit Tunnel Fire, one of the largest transportation tunnel fires in history, burns after a freight train carrying over one million liters of gasoline derails near the town of Todmorden, England in the Pennines.
• 1985-Pope John Paul II announces the institution of World Youth Day.
• 1987-in the worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry Dona Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker Vector in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people.
• 1989-the United States invasion of Panama deposes Manuel Noriega.
• 1991-a Missouri court sentences the Palestinian militant Zein isa and his wife Maria to death for the honor killing of their daughter Palestina.
• 1995-NATO begins peacekeeping in Bosnia.
• 1995-American Airlines Flight 965, a B-757, crashes into a mountain 50 km north of Cali, Colombia, killing 159.
• 1999-Macau is handed over to China by Portugal.
• 2004-a gang of thieves steal GBP 26.6 million worth of currency from the Donegall Square West headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast, North Ireland, United Kingdom, one of the largest bank robberies in British history.
• 2007-Elizabeth II becomes the oldest monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months, and 29 days.
• 2007-the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904), by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, and O Lavrador de Café by Brazilian modernist painter Candido Portinari, are stolen from the Sao Paulo Museum of Art.

Fun Fact of the Day:

“Yellow Journalism” was an 1890’s term for journalism that presented little or no legitimately researched news and instead used eye-catching headlines, sensationalism, and scandal-mongering. Kind of like “fake news” today.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.”—Barbara Bush

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 10/5 closed at $74.34/barrel. Yesterday, Oil was trading at $47.66/barrel. Although up over $1/barrel on the day, much much lower than where it was when Iast wrote the Repo Commentary. That would explain a lot, like the price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station, which today was $2.02/gallon, versus 10/5’s $2.77/gallon! Trade war escalation and imminent US Government shutdown (that oil has been kicked down the road again to now), have wreaked havoc on global stock markets, bond markets, and currencies. The USD versus the Yen was trading at $113.77 on 10/5, and now is trading at $112.20, weaker. The USD was at $1.1524 versus the Euro on 10/5, and yesterday it was at $1.1426, stronger. The USD was at $1.3117 against the GBP on 10/5, and yesterday was at $1.2655, weaker. The USD versus the CAD was $1.2948 on 10/5, and is now at $1.3442, weaker. Gold closed 10/5 at $1204.10/ounce, but yesterday closed at $1256.70/ounce, reflecting the uncertainty of the markets. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25, and was still above the magic $6000 figure at $6,350 on 10/5. Well, that apparently has broken through, trading yesterday at $3,7774.97. I hope all those people that I like sold it at $19000 when it was briefly there. The Brexit crisis has deepened, as British PM’s party is attempting now to oust her from power. European stocks tumbled almost 1.5% Thursday, on the heels of the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate increase. French, German, and UK benchmarks reaching the lowest points since late 2016. China will release its 2019 economic plan today.

Global Financial News:

With the tumble in oil prices over the last 2 months, energy stock prices are down 23% since early October, and investors say companies are acting like the industry will not improve soon. Some firms are down 40% in 2018, as crude broke the $50/barrel support for the first time in over a year. States and cities issuing bonds will ask Congress to bring back advance refundings in 2019. The possible US government shutdown has Wall Street analysts concerned about the impact on the US dollar and US Treasuries. It does not bode well for debt-ceiling talks in March, which could cause problems for the Treasury Department. A new report by the SEC shows that US credit rating agencies are improving procedures, but they still have instances when they don’t follow any of their rules or other rating criteria. The SEC announced that its examinations and inspections of financial professional in 2019 will give a high priority to cybersecurity, critical market structure, and individual investors. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says the market reaction to the Fed rate hike is overblown and markets were needlessly “disappointed” when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the Fed would raise rates at least twice in 2019, when they originally said they would raise rates at least thrice.

“What to Expect When Expecting a Government Shutdown…The specter of a shutdown is once again lurking in the nation’s capital, just in time for the holidays. Congress has until midnight Friday to avert a partial shutdown by passing either a series of appropriations bills to fund the Department of Homeland Security and eight other federal agencies, or a stopgap spending measure to keep the agencies funded at current levels for a short period.” New York Times 

“Booming job market can’t fill retirement shortfall…For older Americans, the last few years of work can be a vital chance to patch up thin savings or pay down debt to ease their way into retirement. Many aren’t getting that opportunity.” WSJ

“Bankruptcy business booms…Record debt burdens, rising borrowing costs and, in some cases, bigger payday loans are driving many Canadians to seek relief, according to several licensed insolvency trustees who spoke to Bloomberg. They say November was their busiest on record, and December — typically a slow time of year in the insolvency trade — hasn’t let up.”National Post

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed at 26,656.77 on 9/20, and closed on 10/5 at 26,447.05, as it fell 180 points on the day. It was hovering around its all-time high, but like I said, global trade wars and uncertainty crushed the Dow the last 2 weeks, so that it was trading yesterday at 23,955.34, after taking another 200 point beating on Tuesday. The bull rally is technically still intact and the longest one we’ve seen. But, it becomes a correction if the Dow slips 20% from its all-time and recent high, so that’s about 5,400 points. It’s currently down about 2,700 points, so about halfway there, likely a Fibonacci technical support. As I write this, I see that the Dow is down another 650 points, for a more than 900-point decline in 2 days and 1,900-point decline in 5 days. Today’s losses are being blamed on the aggressive tightening of interest rates by the Fed yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan’s announcement that President Trump would not sign a temporary government funding resolution, along with losses at Amazon and Apple bringing down the Nasdaq and S&P 500, which are down 2.6% and 2.4% respectively today. S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20 of 2,930.66, closing at 10/5 at 2,885.58. Yesterday, it was trading at 2,570.53. Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28 high of 8,030.04, closing 10/5 at 7,788.45. Yesterday, it traded at 6,832.25. With today’s losses, Nasdaq has almost entered bear market territory, down 18.2% from the record high, only needing to be down 20% to achieve bear market territory. Wow, what did you guys do to the market while I was away? With today’s activity, the Dow has hit a 14-month low and is closer to marking a bear market. US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting. Following that meeting, on 10/5: 2years closed at 2.88% and closed 12/18, according to the US Treasury at 2.65%, plummeting 18bp over the last 2 weeks; 3years closed at 2.99% and just closed on 12/18 at 2.64, a full 20bp drop in 2 weeks; 5years closed on 10/5 at 3.07%, and closed 12/18 at 2.65%, down 18bp in last 2 weeks; 7years closed at 3.18% on 10/5, and closed at 2.74% on 12/18, down 16bp in 2 weeks; 10years closed at 3.23% on 10/5, and just closed at 2.82% on 12/18, down 16bp in 2 weeks; and 30years closed at 3.40% on 10/5, and just closed at 3.07% on 12/18, down 20bp in 2 weeks and nearly breaking through 3% again. I can’t believe how flat the curve is now with 2years-30years at 42bp. Worth noting, while I was off writing, in November, Unemployment hit a 50-year low and wages rose 3.1% over the prior year, the fastest pace since April 2009.

Housing News:

By all measurements, the housing market cooled in 2018, and 2019 looks like it may be a difficult year for both buyers and sellers, according to analysts. Most analysts are predicting higher interest rates (although as we just saw above with Treasury yields, they have dramatically dropped since October, some down nearly ½%) and higher home prices, mainly because of less supply and higher labor and material costs. Both of those would be difficult for the housing market, but expected continued economic growth and increase in employment are supposed to prop up demand. I guess, if the housing market gets too unpredictable, that probably helps the renovation of existing homes and the various industries that support that. Analysts say, despite the delay following the Great Recession, the Millenials are now the biggest homebuyer group, particularly for entry-level homes, although supply is very limited. One thing homebuyers should be considering, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that they have a total debt-to-income ratio below 43%, when all is said and done. I think one thing to watch is the continued move from ownership to renting, houses and condos, as home price increases are likely to advance faster than wage growth. As 2018 ends, with lower existing and new home sales, as well as home prices, analysts still see the slowdown stopping short of a crash. Figures released Wednesday by the US Census Bureau show that almost 2.5 million people have moved to the state of Florida since 2010, up 13.3% in population. Florida remains the country’s 3rd most populous state. Florida’s growth rate in the last year was 1.5%, only surpassed by Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

Repo News:  

As it seems every other global market and US market took yesterday’s FOMC move to tighten rather badly, the repo market showed resilience today and even less funding pressure than expected. GC Overnight traded well-below the expected 2.60% rate, probably due to some GSE cash still being in the system. That will be leaving by Friday, so rates will likely increase on Monday and next week. Obviously, we are heading into year-end and are seeing year-end balance sheet and funding pressures. Scott Skyrm sees the Turn right now 12/31-1/2 at 3.10%/3.00%.
I’m hearing from several sources that the sponsored repo program at FICC, Direct Repo at AVM, Elixium electronic platform, GLMX electronic platform, EUREX CCP, peer-to-peer OTC financing, and BONY’s DBVX are all making headway and volumes are up, although still below 5% of the overall European and US repo markets. I’ll give you more of my thoughts on all that in the next Repo Commentary (otherwise, I’ll never finish this and all the other news will be old!).

I will say that I saw a provocative piece by my old friend, Steve Malekian, regarding Liquidity Assumptions in the Repo Market. I have been seeing several articles about how 10 years now from the events of the Financial Crisis or Great Recession, we have now returned to some kind of ‘normalcy’. The banks are much better capitalized, forced to be so by over 300 regulations slapped on them and forced deleveraging to all market participants. Many people have been remarking how liquidity has returned to the market and is in abundant supply now. Now, I don’t know about you, but I see deleveraging and increased liquidity as an issue in semantics and timing. If you force people to slash their use of liquidity by as much as 60%, and it is still technically there, then there’s sort of more liquidity.

On the counterparty credit risk side, regulators certainly got things more transparent and eased questions about bank solvency, although the ‘too big to fail’ thing still lurks. There are less participants and the larger ones have crowded out some of the smaller ones. But, at what price was counterparty credit risk at banks reduced? Concentrating that risk into one, two, or three CCPs, may have reduced one counterparty credit risk, just to increase credit risk and concentration risk among only a few institutions. I remember one of the smartest money funds had told me that they now look at the CCPs’ membership lists and their waterfall provisions very carefully.

Anyway, Steve points out that bank balance sheets were slashed and client coverage was culled. As bank capital has been reallocated now back to the Repo Desks, for their smooth revenue stream, its allocation among clients is very different than it used to be. So, if you happened to be a client in the rare category of platinum (in terms of size and doing many of the product lines of that bank), you now are seeing more liquidity from that bank. But, if you are smaller or only doing repo or only doing thinner bid/offer spread repo, you are not receiving the prior liquidity or you are seeing much wider bid/offer spreads.

Remember that liquidity and balance sheet are fickle things that can change pretty suddenly. So, is liquidity overall up? Or, is this time different?

Anyway, I’ve paraphrased Steve, perhaps not perfectly, and added some of my own thoughts just to provoke discussion.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences:
 

• Finadium will hold a webinar on moving to SOFR, SONIA, and ESTER, the three principal LIBOR alternatives, on 1/15.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I have been chosen as the Chairman.
• Finadium will hold a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN will hold its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• RMA will hold its 16th annual PASLA/RMA Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia on 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA will hold its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• IMN will hold its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Repo & Securities Lending Conference in Boca Raton, FL in October.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC in November.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened yesterday at 2.25%. They will likely open closer to 2.50% on Thursday, as the FOMC tightened yesterday afternoon.

The next FOMC meetings are: 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

Yesterday, as expected, and true to form, the Fed ignored a President’s warnings and tightened again, raising the Fed Funds target rate by another 25bp to 2.50%, although Fed Funds have been trading a little lower. The Federal Reserve will propose a rule this year to simplify the stress tests for regional banks and to reduce their frequency, per Randal Quarles. The rule would apply to banks with $100 billion-$250 billion in assets.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A tsunami warning has been issues, as a 7.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Russia’s eastern shore. In February 2017, two small seismic events occurred near the Oroville Dam in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. A new report found that actually over 19,000 smaller-magnitude events have occurred near the Oroville spillway and may have caused the periods of spillway discharge.

The latest earthquakes:

12/20/18 7.4 82km W of Nikol’skoye, Russia
12/12/18 6.3 Pacific-Antarctic Ridge
12/12/18 4.4 11km NNE of Decatur, Tennessee
12/11/18 7.1 48km N of Bristol Island
12/9/18 4.8 9km SSE of Big Lake, Alaska
12/5/18 6.6 192km ESE of Tadine, New Caledonia
12/1/18 6.3 293km WNW of Saumiaki, Indonesia
11/30/18 7.0 12km N of Anchorage, Alaska

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st and ended November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted that this season would be a busy, above average hurricane season. They had predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. There were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. In 2017, they were way off the wrong way as well, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here were the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene done
Isaac done
Joyce done
Kirk done
Leslie done
Michael done
Nadine done
Oscar done
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ended 11/1/18.

As for the weather, those of you who are visiting Florida for the holidays have missed our brief two one-day cold fronts, which brought temps down to the 50s and 60s and had everyone here scurrying for ski clothes. It’s rather funny how most people here are from up North (I95 East coast side from Atlanta, DC, Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, Quebec; i75 West cost side from Memphis, Chicago, Madison, Detroit, Minneapolis, Ottawa) all lost their ability to withstand slight chill. We are back up into the 80s, near record highs, with high humidity and unstable weather. The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory through Monday morning, as broad system stretching from Wisconsin to the Gulf Coast is pushing east, and is bring rain to the Mid-Atlantic and South. Another system is expected to hit 12/27-12/28, but will mostly affect New England. That storm is expected to have heavy snow and hazardous road conditions. It will begin in the Plains and Great Lakes shortly after Christmas and head on to the Northeast. There is a high-wind warning for Seattle and Florida, two opposite parts of the continental US. Rainfall in Orland shattered a 107-year-old record. NOAA published its outlook for the country for January-March period and is expecting warmer-than-average temperatures for the western half of the country and likely wet conditions across much of the Southwest, South, and up into the Mid-Atlantic.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season has ended. But, it baseball returns in less than 100 days! Let’s see, what happened since I last wrote on 10/7/18. Oh yeah, my Red Sox won the World Series, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers!!! It was the Boston Red Sox 4th World Series Championship in 14 years (2004, 2007, 2013, 2018), since breaking the 86-year Curse of the Bambino. In fact, with the Red Sox 4 Championships, the Bruins one Stanley Cup, the Patriots 5 Super Bowls, and the Celtics NBA Title, Boston/New England teams have won 11 Championship titles in the last 16 years.

The offseason Free Agency Hot Stove has begun in full force. The two biggest star free agents and likely largest contracts are Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Also, the owners have been meeting to discuss new rules for the game, including possibly banning or limiting defensive shifts for batter tendencies. The Yankees and Red Sox will have a game in London in 2019. The Yankees believe Red Sox-hater 3B free agent Manny Machado is a “perfect fit” for their organization. It sounds like they just have to agree on a price. Currently, the 26-year-old Machado wants a $300 million deal. Star ace Matt Harvey’s expected free agency frenzy has fizzled, but he was finally able to sign a 1-year deal with the Angels for $11 million. His former team, the Mets, are discussing signing free agent infielder Mike Moustakas. Jeurys Familia has returned to the Mets for a 3year/$30 million deal. The Mets also signed a catcher, Wilson Ramos, for 2 years/$19.5 million. The Rays added starter Charlie Morton for 2years/$30 million. The Nationals made a mega deal for starter Patrick Corbin for 6 years/$140 million. The Yankees gave CC Sabathia his $500,000 bonus, despite the ejection for plunking Rays’ Jesus Sucre, which would have nullified the bonus. They also re-signed him for one year/$8 million. The Yankees and pitcher J.A. Happ have finalized a 2-year-deal for $34 million. The Yankees also brought back a Red Sox pest, OF Brett Gardner for one year/$7.5 million. He actually was due $11 million in 2019, but the Yankees bought out his contract for $2 million and then offered him $7.5 million, saving themselves $1.5 million. The Dodgers re-signed David Freese for one year/$6 million. The Indians continue to discuss trading ace Corey Kluber and at least 4 teams are interested. Catcher Brian McCann has returned to the Braves for one year/$2 million. The Braves also signed annoying 3B Josh Donaldson for one year/$23 million. I’m only annoyed because the Red Sox let him go years ago and he continues to light the Red Sox up for other teams. The Nationals signed catcher Kurt Suzuki for 2 years/$10 million. The Nats also signed pitcher Trevor Rosenthal for one year/$7 million. The Red Sox re-signed 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce for one year/$6.25 million. The Astros and former oft-injured Indians slugger Michael Brantley finalized a 2-year-deal. MLB has partnered with DAZN to create live look-in show for baseball fans. The MLB and MLBPA have reached an agreement with Cuban Baseball Federation, finally eliminating the need for players to defect. Astros reliever Joe Smith will be out 6-8 months, after rupturing his Achilles tendon. Cubs’ Addison Russell’s ex-wife is revealing more details of alleged abuse in their marriage.

Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis has made her choice of college and will attend Hampton University and will play on their softball team. She was not the first girl to play in Little League World Series history, certainly had the greatest impact, hurling 70 mph pitches and throwing shutouts. Her second LLWS start 4 years ago drew just under 5 million viewers on ESPN, the single-game Little League viewing record for the network.

Golf:

The PGA of America announced that it will be moving its headquarters from Florida to Texas! Renowned golf architect Keith Foster is facing a possible 5-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to illegally transporting between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of items made from endangered species of wildlife. He apparently imported the items made from endangered species such as crocodiles, sea turtles, sawfish, and migratory birds for his store The Output in Middleburg, VA. The clubhouse at Machrihanish Golf Club, founded in 1876, was destroyed by a fire on Wednesday. The PGA Tour is offering support for sports betting legislation. Last month, Rory McIlroy hinted that he would rescind his European Tour membership in 2019, but instead he has decided to keep it.

Fighting:

Boxing

Seven middleweight contenders are ready to face champ Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez just became a 3-division champion with a 3rd round TKO over Rocky. Matt Korobov is replacing Willie Monroe Jr. to fight Jermall Charlo.

MMA:

Conor McGregor returned to the Octagon to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. Khabib, the Russian, was the undefeated (27-0) light heavyweight champion. I rarely watch MMA anymore, not just because of the $80 pay-per-view, but I happened to be at a restaurant showing it and I watched the entire undercard and main card. The main event turned out to be a historic one, even if it did not show the UFC in its best light, and harkened back to the Gulotta/Bowe boxing match melee at MSG (that I was at and in the middle of) and the infamous Tyson/Holyfield boxing match ear brawl in Las Vegas. First the result, Khabib won over Conor with a 4th round naked-rear chokehold that forced the former flamboyant champion from Ireland to tap out. But, once that fight was over, many more fights began, as the Las Vegas venue erupted in several fights. Bellator 213 was in Hawaii. Headliner Ilima-Lei Macfarlane employed a triangle choke hold to defeat Letourneau. UFC will be featured for a change on Fox. UFC in Milwaukee saw Al Iaquinta getting a unanimous decision over Kevin Lee.

NCAA Basketball:

While I was away, the college basketball season started. Kevin Durant says that Duke’s Zion Williamson is a “once-in-a-generation-star”. Disgraced Rick Pitino is finalizing a deal to become EuroLeague head coach. UNC announced an 8-year extension for coach roy Williams. UCLA is having trouble in the weak Pac-12 and Notre Dame was on a losing streak that was stopped at 2, but at a huge price, losing their best player Rex Pflueger, for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. No.12 UNC just upset No.4 Gonzaga. And that was after No.7 Tennessee had upset then No.1 Gonzaga. Penn shocked Villanova. 5-star recruit Vernon Carey has committed to Duke. Former Indiana star Eric Anderson has died at age 48. Indiana buzzer-beater beat Butler. Former 5-star recruit Quade Green is expected to transfer from Kentucky. We are only about 1/3rd through the season, but this is the latest poll from 12/16, and there are some household names up there, along with some unusual ones:

1. Kansas (10-0)
2. Duke (10-1)
3. Tennessee (9-1)
4. Michigan (11-0)
5. Virginia (10-0)
6. Nevada (11-0)
7. Auburn (9-2)
8. Gonzaga (10-2)
9. North Carolina (8-2)
10. Michigan State (9-2)
11. FSU (10-1)
12. Texas Tech (10-0)
13. Virginia Tech (10-1)
14. Buffalo (11-0)
15. Ohio State (10-1)
16. Wisconsin (9-2)
17. Mississippi State (10-1)
18. Arizona State (8-2)
19. Kentucky (8-2)
20. Marquette (9-2)
21. Houston (10-0)
22. Indiana (10-2)
23. Iowa (9-2)
24. Furman (12-0)
25. Nebraska (9-2)

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25 and the season has ended, with bowl games already having started. Michigan LB Devin Bush says he will forgo his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. At least one NFL team is looking to hire Jim Harbaugh away from the University of Michigan. Say it ain’t so, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has said that he will retire after the Rose Bowl game. Georgia QB Justin Fields is reportedly looking at transfer options. 5-star recruit DE Zach Harrison has decided to go to Ohio State, despite Urban Meyer leaving. Some new Buckeyes decommitted after the Urban Meyer news, including safety Jordan Battle (who flipped to Alabama), QB Dwan Mathis (who flipped to Georgia). Current Georgia QB Justin Fields is now reportedly looking at transfer options.

As of 12/1, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (13-0)
2. Clemson (13-0)
3. Notre Dame (12-0)
4. Oklahoma (12-1)
5. Ohio State (12-1)
6. Georgia (11-2)
7. UCF (12-0)
8. Michigan (10-2)
9. Washington (10-3)
10. Florida (9-3)
11. LSU (9-3)
12. Washington State (10-2)
13. Penn State (9-3)
14. Texas (9-4)
15. West Virginia (8-3)
16. Kentucky (9-3)
17. Syracuse (9-3)
18. Mississippi State (8-4)
19. Fresno State (12-2)
20. Utah (9-4)
21. Texas A&M (8-4)
22. Army (10-2)
23. Boise State (10-3)
24. Missouri (8-4)
25. Iowa State (8-4)

Here is your 2018-19 College Football Playoff and Bowl schedule:

12/29 4:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
No.2 Clemson vs. No.3 Notre Dame

12/29 8:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Capital One Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama vs No.4 Oklahoma

01/07 8:00pm College Football Playoff National Championship
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA

12/15
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
North Carolina A&T 24
Alcorn State 22

New Mexico Bowl by Progressive
Utah State 52
North Texas 13

AutoNation Cure Bowl
Tulane 41
Louisiana 24

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State 31
Arizona State 20

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern 23
Eastern Michigan 21

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State 45
Middle Tennessee 13

12/18
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
UAB 37
Northern Illinois 13

12/19
DXL Frisco Bowl
Ohio 27
San Diego State 0

12/20
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall vs. South Florida

12/21
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
FIU vs. Toledo

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Western Michigan vs. BYU

12/22
Jared Birmingham Bowl
Memphis vs. Wake Forest

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Houston vs. Army

Dollar General Bowl
Buffalo vs. Troy

SoFi Hawai’I Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii

12/26
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Boston College vs. Boise State

Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech

Cheez-It Bowl
California vs. TCU

12/27
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Temple vs. Duke

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Miami vs. Wisconsin

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Baylor vs. Vanderbilt

12/28
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Purdue vs. Auburn

Camping World Bowl
West Virginia vs Syracuse

Valero Alamo Bowl
Iowa State vs. Washington State

12/29
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
No.10 Florida vs. No.7 Michigan

Belk Bowl
South Carolina vs. Virginia
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Arkansas State vs. Nevada

CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl
No.2 Clemson vs. No.3 Notre Dame

CFP Semifinal Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama vs. No.4 Oklahoma

12/31
Military Bowl by Northrop Grumman
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Stanford vs. Pittsburgh

Redbox Bowl
Michigan State vs. Oregon

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Missouri vs. Oklahoma State

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Northwestern vs. Utah

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
NC State vs. Texas A&M

O1/01
Outback Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Iowa

VRBO Citrus Bowl
Kentucky vs. Penn State

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
No.11 LSU vs. No.8 UCF

Rose Bowl presented by NWML
No.9 Washington vs. No.6 Ohio State

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No.15 Texas vs. No.5 Georgia

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is nearing its end, as we enter Week 16, with a game tonight, two on Saturday, plenty on Sunday, and one on Monday. My Patriots (9-5) have not done particularly well, falling to a last-second hook-and-ladder 69-yard 4 lateral comeback by Miami and Tom Brady uncharacteristically not completing the 2-minute drill on the 4-yard-line against the Steelers, but, luckily, they are in one of the worst divisions, so they won that, and they have two easy games coming up. They still might get a bye, but probably won’t go much further, despite having been the Super Bowl loser last year. Unfortunately, they are losing personnel right and left: today, WR Josh Gordon chose to quit the team to “focus on his mental health” (rumor has it he was about to suspended by the NFL for the 4th time in 4 years for drug use); TE Rob Gronkowski is now nursing 3 different injuries (not including pride for that blown last second play against Miami); WR Jules Edelman has the ‘drops’; RB/WR White appears to be in the doghouse; and QB Tom Brady is looking rushed and old. The Patriots have now fallen behind the Texans in the playoff rankings. Patriots’ QB Tom Brady and the Patriots reportedly had “tough conversations” following their loss to the Steelers. There have been a lot of surprises this NFL season, a lot more parity than usual, some huge upsets, a lot of OT and tie games, and phenomenal inability of many placekickers. Moving the Point After Touchdown from the 2-yard-line to the 33-yard-line didn’t have that much impact initially, but this year it was bizarre. Former Lions WR Titus Young has been released after serving 20 months in prison. Rams star RB Todd Gurley has been out with a knee injury but is expected to return against the Cardinals in Week 16. Saints QB Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton have moved up the list of great QB/coach combos. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers plans on playing against the Jets. The Raiders will reportedly sign former Bills QB Nathan Peterman. They have gone through 4 or more RBs and at least 3 QBs this season. Steelers RB James Conner is still nursing an ankle injury and says he is “not ready yet”. He made the Steelers and Steeler fans forget that their money RB Le’Veon Bell held out all season, which theoretically crippled the Steelers, but Conner was their shining star. Panthers disappointing season continues, as their one star, QB Cam Newton will be shelved this week as well, with a shoulder injury, after Monday night’s loss. The Dolphins only bright spot in a dismal season of no playoffs, ageless RB Frank Gore has been placed on the Injured Reserve with a foot injury. The Super Bowl Champion Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz (who did not play in the Super Bowl or win the MVP) has had a history of back problems, including a stress fracture in his back, that dates back to his college days. A couple of weeks ago, he missed practice because of back spasms, and now a CT scan has revealed a stress fracture in his back, ruling him out for Week 15 and now Week 16. Backup QB Nick Foles, who WAS last year’s Super Bowl MVP will finally get his fourth appearance of this year. The Eagles are not out of the playoffs yet, as they are 7-7 and only one game behind the first place, reeling Cowboys. But, they are playing the Texans. Ageless superstar Redskins RB Adrian Peterson says that he was inspired to keep playing by Packers QB Brett Favre, his longtime rival. After 12 years in the NFL, Peterson still does not want to retire, after just having a great year for the Redskins. Cardinals superstar WR Larry Fitzgerald says that this Sunday may be his final home game. Former NFL TV analyst Jon Gruden had an interesting year, taking the head coaching job at the Oakland Raiders for a lot of money and then trading everybody except QB Derek Carr away. But, he did get a ton of first round and second round draft picks to rebuild the team. Meanwhile, Oakland has filed a lawsuit against the Raiders. The Rams just signed free agent RB C.J. Anderson. Perhaps, they are more concerned about Todd Gurley’s injury than they let on. The Packers have reportedly met with former Broncos QB Paxton Lynch. If anybody is meeting with a former NFL QB, it should be the Dolphins. The Seahawks have signed RB Bo Scarbrough off the Jaguars practice squad. The Packers have placed RB Aaron Jones on injured reserve with a knee issue. Falcons may fire Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Defensive Coordinator Marquand Manuel, according to a new report, now that they have been eliminated from the playoffs. Redskins safety Montae Nicholson has been arrested on assault charges. Ex-Patriot Damien Woody says Rob Gronkowski is “a shell of himself” after all of his injuries. The Chargers are pretty banged up, with WR Keenan Allen out with a hip injury and RB Melvin Gordon out with a knee injury.

If you are thinking ahead to the Pro Bowl, the Chargers lead the NFL with 7 selections. Saints’ QB Drew Brees was named the starting NFC QB. The thing about the NFL’s Pro Bowl, which is supposed to be similar to the All-Star Games for the MLB, NBA, and NHL, is that it occurs at the end of the regular season, a week before the Super Bowl, whereas the other sports do their All-Star games midway through their regular seasons. I never understood why the NFL does this and I have never watched the game accordingly. Because, theoretically, the players from the best two teams aren’t going to play in the Pro Bowl, because they are getting ready for the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl is sort of a consolation game of the 3rd and 4th best players. If the Saints make the Super Bowl, Drew Brees will not be playing in the Pro Bowl as the starting QB. A ten-year-old could have probably figured out that marketing blunder, so why does the NFL do it? Well, I think it’s because of their other problem, injuries, particularly concussions. The Super Bowl would be marred if the absolute best players in the NFL were injured in the middle of the season in a Pro Bowl. The other sports don’t feel they have the same risks of injury. Interesting.

ESPN is reportedly thinking of ways to bring back the glory days of Monday Night Football and better ratings, including possibly adding Peyton Manning as an anchor.

The NFL has picked future locations for the Super Bowl. Minnesota hosted Super Bowl 52 in 2018 in its new dome stadium. Likewise, Atlanta will host Super Bowl 53 in 2019 in its new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In 2020, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will host Super Bowl 54. In 2021, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will host Super Bowl 55. In 2022, Los Angeles will host Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles Stadium. In 2023, Glendale, AZ will host Super Bowl 57 in University of Phoenix Stadium. In 2024, Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will host Super Bowl 58. Clearly, the NFL is favoring weather and dome stadiums.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. We are just short of halfway through now. The Lightning are way ahead (again) in the Eastern Conference and overall in the NHL, trailed by the Leafs, Sabres (that’s a surprise), Capitals, and Bruins (surpisingly mediocre this year). The Devils are in the cellar. Devils goalie, Cory Schneider, just went on IR with an abdominal strain. The Flyers are not far ahead and, so, just fired coach Dave Hakstol. In the Western Conference, there is a logjam at the top between the Jets, Flames, Predators, and Avalanche. The Kings are in the cellar. The Blackhawks are right there too, uncharacteristically. Their goalie, Corey Crawford, suffered another concussion and is back on IR. The Canadian teams have finally returned. Former Senators assistant GM Randy Lee pleaded guilty to sexual harassment charge. Penguins star Sidney Crosby had a heated shouting match with Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, as the Pens beat the Caps. There’s no love lost between these two teams, as Caps’ Tom Wilson dropped Pens’ Jamie Oleksiak in a fight less than a minute into the game. Caps’ Ovechkin extended his career-high point streak to 14 games, the game before, and two straight hat tricks (his 20th and 21st). Trade talk is increasing, particularly for the Blues and the Kings. The Sabres are terminating forward Patrik Berglund’s contract after suspension. The 2019 World Junior Hockey Championships are coming up and Team USA figures to be very involved. Don’t forget the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic coming up (outside in a stadium) on New Year’s Day! This year features the Boston Bruins versus the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium (wow, they are really opening up that place, having just had their first concert there, Garth Brooks.) The fan-popular outdoor series began 11 years ago. 9 years ago, it featured the Bruins and the Flyers in Fenway Park, which ended in an OT win by the Bruins, while it was snowing. The Blackhawks have appeared in 6 outdoor games, 4 of them Winter Classics. This is the Bruins 3rd Winter Classic. The Penguins may be looking to trade Phil Kessel.

FIELD HOCKEY:

In field hockey, the World Cup concluded with Belgium defeating the Netherlands in the Final.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well and it has been all about LeBron James’ debut with the Lakers. The Rockets set an NBA record with 26 3-pointers made in their win over Wizards 136-118 on Wednesday. The Nets have won 6 in a row, topping the Lakers in Brooklyn. Heat guard Goran Dragic will be out 2 months after knee surgery. Timberwolves Taj Gibson tried to block a shot with his shoe. There is a full schedule of NBA games on Christmas Day, a kind of more recent tradition (like NCAA Football bowl games on New Year’s Day, NHL Outdoor Classic game on New Year’s Day, and 4 NFL games on Thanksgiving Day). The NBA trade deadline is 2/7. Free Agency is upon us now though. The Wizards will sign former Knicks guard Ron Baker. LeBron James keeps talking about the Lakers potentially acquiring Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis, although the latter keeps defusing the remarks. Hawks’ Kent Bazemore is generating interest. Jason Terry declared that he would be open to signing with the Lakers or Warriors. Bulls’ Jabari Parker expects to be traded. Lakers will probably trade Brandon Ingram. The Rockets are reportedly interested in Laker’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Thunder’s Dennis Schroder and Raymond Felton were suspended after a scuffle with the Bulls. NFL Draft is also happening now and Rounds 1 and 2 have been completed. The Pacers and Kings will take the NBA to India in 2019. Lamar Odom says he will play in the Dubai International Basketball League. C’mon, they couldn’t find and R word for a snazzy acronym DRIBL for basketball???

Travel News:

Just as we come up on another excessive traveling holiday period, Americans are again facing bad weather that should lead to thousands of delays and cancellations. Friday, 12/21, should be the heaviest day of travel, according to AAA. British Airways flew 4 kids to NYC to recreate the movie HOME ALONE 2, on a plance decked out with Christmas lights. A Korean Air flight attendant humiliated by an airline executive will receive $18,000. US and Mexico have announced that they have reached a deal on migrants seeking asylum at the border. A nudist park is up for sale in New Zealand. A Delta passenger claims a cleaning crew stole laptop left on an airplane. Donna Karan has a new travel-inspired pop-up store. A college student claims that Southwest Airlines forced her to abandon her pet fish at an airport. Speaking of Southwest Airlines, they are beginning their Hawaii route very soon. Britain’s second-largest airport has reopened, after a chaos with nearby drones.

Health News:

Legionnaires’ outbreak at a Wisconsin hospital has resulted in 3 deaths, according to officials. New research shows that veterinarians, especially women, are farm more likely to die by suicide. Some stem cell shots have now been linked to a bacterial infection. The US government is urging more doctors to write prescriptions for the overdose antidote. A new report says the obesity epidemic in the US is worsening. Most drugmakers are planning US price hikes in 2019. The deadly Ebola cousin virus, Marburg, has been found in West African bats. The FDA has issued a warning that some antibiotics, particularly those prescribed for an upper respiratory infection or urinary tract infections who are already at risk, can cause fatal heart damage. The antibiotics in the Fluroquinolone family might raise the risk of an aortic dissection in people already at risk. Interestingly, Cipro, which is one of the drugs in that family, one of five families of antibiotics, is the one that put me in emergency for antiphylactic shock twice. A new agriculture bill would legalize hemp. Teen vaping is now becoming a public health threat, according to the Surgeon General, and is many times more concentrated nicotine. He has officially declared it an epidemic among children and outlined the aggressive steps the government, including the FDA, will take to protect our children. The FDA has threatened an outright ban, if these efforts don’t work. Juul, the most popular vape product by far among teens, offers no nicotine-free flavors. Many think that the huge spike in teen vaping is because of the various ‘flavors’, but scientists think that it’s because of the higher concentration of nicotine. “A Juul cartridge, or ‘pod’, contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes,” according to the Surgeon General. A survey released Monday showed 37% of high school seniors have tried vaping, up from just under 28% in 2017. While e-cigarettes may help some adult smokers quit using more dangerous tobacco cigarettes, studies show that they’re of no benefit at all to teens. Nicotine is not only extremely addictive, “but it is uniquely harmful to young and developing brains that can cause learning, attention and memory problems, and it can prime the brain for addiction in the future,” according the Surgeon General. Guns are now the second leading killer of US kids. A new study shows that opioids don’t work that well. The romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak, which has finally ended, has been traced to one California farm.

Animal News:

A record 18-foot 150lb Burmese python was captured in Florida, breaking the state record. The state is currently conducting a hunt, as part of the South Florida Water Management District’s Python Elimination Program. Unfortunately, the non-native gigantic species has no natural predators here, especially at that size. Even alligators and crocodiles stay clear. It looks like fried chicken chain, Popeyes, has missed the mark on its new advertising campaign. Popeyes started using “emotional support chicken” meal carriers at Philadelphia International Airport, which PETA is furious about. They feel it’s a terrible jab at the raging national debate over emotional support animals on planes and people who abuse the program. The disposable tote is a carry-on box in the shape of a chicken and a sign boasting about its chicken’s “comforting” effects on travelers. Scientists have discovered 130-million-year old insects trapped in amber, right where they were born. Former nicotine research monkeys are now at a primate sanctuary. A new animal cruelty lawsuit has been filed by ALDF against Washington Drive-Thru Zoo Olympic Game Farm. According to a new report, 10 species are threatened by extinction, including red wolves, one of the rarest mammals on Earth (only 2 or 3 breeding pairs remain), due to lack of protection by the federal government, as the current administration is working on finalizing rules that will weaken the Endangered Species Act, despite 99.9% of more than 108,000 public comments preferring stronger federal protection. Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction now. Other animals that are now in peril are:

• California condor
• Giraffe
• Hellbender
• Humboldt marten
• Leatherback and Loggerhead sea turtles
• Rusty patched bumble bee
• San Bernadino kangaroo rat
• West Indian manatee
• Western yellow-billed cuckoo
Toughie, the world’s last Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog has passed away and the species is now extinct. According to the WWF, elephants are still the most poached species in the world. Trophy-hunting US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has resigned from controversial position in Trump Administration, in response to numerous ethics investigations. Scientists released a new study in which they found rat poison in 85% of tested mountain lions and bobcats. Beginning on 12/18, Delta Air Lines began banning support animals on airplanes with flights longer than 8 hours, and will no longer allow any service or support animals under 4 months of age on any flight (due to USDA vaccination requirements). Roger, the incredibly buff kangaroo, has died at age 12.

Entertainment News:

While I was away, President Trump announced and awarded the following 7 people the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients (the highest honor a US civilian can receive): my Elvis Presley (finally), George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senator Orrin Hatch, Miriam Adelson, Alan C. Page, and Roger Staubach. The prestigious award is given to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House press release.

Sad news on Tuesday, as Penny Marshall, actress/producer, famous for producing and directing the movie BIG and the movie A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, and her long-standing TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley, died of cancer at age 74.

The Academy Awards has yet to find a replacement for host Kevin Hart, who surprisingly pulled out 48 hours after being announced. It was his dream his whole life to host the Oscars, but texts considered homophobic from his past came back to haunt him and forced him to withdraw. The Voice crowned a 14-year-old country singer as champion. Meanwhile, a former Voice finalist just butchered the National Anthem at an NBA game. A WWE professional wrestler just fractured his skull in a jump from the top rope that went terribly wrong. Singer Anca Pop’s last photo shows the river in which she died. Jimmy Kimmel is being slammed for a God and Satan sketch. Ellen DeGeneres is back doing stand-up comedy, after a 20-year hiatus. Mary Lambert is explaining how she survived childhood molestation and rape. Michael Rapaport is being attacked on Twitter for posting mean Tweet about Ariana Grande’s looks. Josh Duhamel has revealed tha the wants to find “someone young enough” to have kids with after split from Fergie. There has been a backlash from the entertainment industry regarding the NFL’s policy regarding kneeling during the National Anthem and the hiring of former QB Colin Kaepernick. Several artists have now declined to do the halftime show, and Maroon 5 has still not committed. Jay-Z is trying to talk Travis Scott out of doing the halftime show. A Beverly Hills 90210 TV series reboot is in the works. Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen announces that he’s going to become a father. Drew Barrymore continues to struggle with her issues and has started a five-part series where she invites people to share in photos of herself crying and in depression. Beyonce may have just secretly dropped 2 new albums, as new songs are appearing on Spotify and Apple Music, as of Thursday night. Vanessa Hudgens and Charles Melton have now joined BAD BOYS 3. Audrina Patridge and Corey Bohan have finalized their divorce, which was filed after only 10 months of marriage in September 2017. The divorce lasted longer than the marriage. There are rumors that Modern Family could come back for one final season. Kate Hudson is under fire for partnering with Weight Watchers. Why? Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton are apparently feuding, which is just like normal families. Gossip Girl alum Penn Badgley says ‘priveleged white people’ make up majority of acting industry. Rapper Juelz Santana has been sentenced to prison for possessing gun in airport. Halsey is responded to backlash over her The Voice performance, blasting “homophobic viewers.” Tommy Lee and his son Brandon have made amends after their physical altercation. Madonna is ‘shading’ Lady Gaga, accusing her of ripping her off again over A STAR IS BORN press tour, saying that she is using lines that Madonna had originally said years ago. Sandra Bullock is opening up about losing her father, 2 dogs, and crying in the bathtub. A judge has announced that Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case will move forward, after all the delays. Kelly Clarkson doesn’t want her kids to become musicians. Amber Heard claims that she lost acting jobs after making abuse allegations against Johnny Depp.

I have a pet peeve that has developed, having studied English and Journalism in college, I want to know when it became okay for television newscasters and reporters to start their stories with the subject, followed immediately by the pronoun, as in “Flu shots, they have been less effective…” or “The President, he said blah blah blah” or “Alec Baldwin, he punched…” or “Hurricane Michael, it will …” I just don’t get it. The proper noun initiated the sentence, so there is zero need to qualify it with an additional pronoun. If you think I’m kidding, listen to any news broadcast and you will hear this rampant misuse of the English language. I’ve listened to six examples just this morning on the Today show.

I’m still behind in movies, but not horrifically behind. I did see some 2017 movies recently: MEG (2 out of 10), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: SKYFALL (8.5 out of 10, I think the best in the series), MAMA MIA 2 (7 out of 10, Cher stole the show), and THE POST (6.5 out of 10, beautifully historic yet boring). I still have not seen A STAR IS BORN, FIRST MAN, or BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, but must.

This week’s box-office was okay, maybe because of the weather. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE took No.1 in its debut, with $35.4 million (budget of $90 million); No.2 was also a debut, the new Clint Eastwood movie THE MULE, pulling in $17.5 million (budget of $50 million); No.3 was DR. SEUSS’ THE GRINCH which fell from No.2 with $11.8 million, in its 6th week (total of $239 million on a budget of $75 million, so no crying to the bank); No.4 was RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, yet another animated movie, this one tumbling from No.1 with just $9.3 million in its 4th week (total $154 million on budget of $175 million, maybe some weeping. Wait, how does an animated film cost $175 million nowadays?); and No.5 was another debut, MORTAL ENGINES with $7.6 million box-office (budget $100 million, uh oh!). CREED II or Rocky 8, depending on whether you are on metric or not, had a mere $5.4 million for 6th place, but has make more than double its budget of $50 million. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY fell to No.7 in its 7th week, with another $4.3 million (up to $180.6 million now on budget of $52 million, a winner).

Movies coming out this week is a heavy load of movies: DIAL CODE: SANTA CLAUS/BLOOD BEAT (don’t ask me), MARY POPPINS RETURNS (only took 53 years for Part II, so atypical of Hollywood), ANTARIKSHAM, BATMAN RETURNS/GREMLINS (huh?), PADI PADI LECHE MANASU (now I’m wondering if they are just messing with me), SEETHAKATHI, ADANG MARU, AIRPOCALYPSE (what?), ALL IS TRUE, AMERICAN RENEGADES, AQUAMAN, BIRD BOX, BUMBLEBEE (smaller Transformer), COLD WAR, DIE HARD/TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (this is suspicious because in the ad Bruce Willis has hair), DIRTY DIANA, FOURTH QUARTER, KGF CHAPTER I, MAARI 2, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS (I want to see this, as she is my ancestor), RENEGADES, SECOND ACT (JLo film which looks funny), SWING KIDS, WELCOME TO MARWEN (I want to see this), ZERO, VIRTUAL ASSASIN, THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, AURORA, HOLMES & WATSON (featuring WIl Farrell and the other guy from TALLADEGA NIGHTS, could be silly funny), IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, ON THE BASIS OF SEX, VICE, TAKE POINT, FANTASTICA, KILL MOBILE, SIMMBA, STAN AND OLLIE (I grew up watching them).

Technology & Space News:

According to the DOJ, Chinese hackers spent years trying to steal US technology. The DOJ is going after the Chinese intelligence officers now. 50 years later, Apollo 8’s astronauts tell of being first to orbit moon and see an “Earthrise”. There is a triple threat today, with the Winter Solstice, a full moon, and a meteor shower. Watch out for the crazies! Apple has changed its rules to allow in-app gifting. Kids have been apparently leery to join Facebook and YouTube Kids, favoring Instagram. US postal stamp prices are going up again in 2019. Kohl’s will be open 24 hours starting today through Christmas Eve.

US News:

A border wall fundraiser is among GoFundMe’s top 5 fundraisers ever. A US Government shutdown is looming and President Trump is vowing a veto of the stopgap budget, if it doesn’t include provisions for his wall on the Mexican border. The House then forced a Senate Thursday by approving $5 billion in border wall funding. The House has also passed a criminal justice reform bill. A porn star has been arrested for masterminding a murder-for-hire plot. The deputy who killed his relatives before committing suicide was a former Officer of the Year recipient. A 12-year-old boy has been charged with stabbing his sister to death and attacking his lobbyist mother. A former gymnast has lost a leg and arm to toxic shock syndrome. A DEA “double agent” has been accused of secretly working with murderous gang. Police have charged an Iowa man with the 1979 murder of an 18-year-old woman. A Salvadoran man sought sanctuary 9 miles from the White House. Illinois Attorney General has found 500 more Catholic clergy accused of abuse. The US military has ended its search for 5 missing US Marines after their crash off the Japanese coast. US Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis is leaving his job, retiring at the end of February, after a clash with President Trump over Syria, following the President’s announcement that he would withdraw troops from Syria because the war against ISIS is over.

International News:

The Balangiga bells, taken by US Army soldiers from the Philippines in 1901 as war trophies, have been repatriated back to the Philippines. Two days after a shooting at the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, in which 5 people died, French police have killed the suspected shooter. A massive sinkhole has opened up near an Indonesian hospital. Russian President Putin says convicted Russian spy Marina Butina pleaded guilty to a lie. ISIS may be behind a savage killing of backpackers in Morocco. Congo has delayed presidential vote until December 30th, citing a fire. US troops are preparing to withdraw from Syria, after President Trump declared victory over ISIS. Kurdish-led US allies in Syria say that withdrawing of US troops will aid ISIS. A celebrity spiritual leader, John of God, in Brazil has been accused of sex abuse. North Korea just said that it will never denuclearize, unless the US removes its nuclear threat. The detention of 2 Canadians has raised the tension in China-US-Canada dispute. A US sportswear brand has been traced to internment camps holding detained Chinese Muslims. A 3-year-old Indian girl has been raped on the 6th anniversary of the brutal Delhi gang rape. Germany has agreed to compensate survivors of WWII’s Kindertransport. Saudi Arabia has strongly rebuked US Senate’s “interference” in the Kingdom. At least 11 people have died in India from a suspected rice poisoning at a temple celebration. Australia has just recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Florida:

The blue-green algae disaster on the East Coast of Florida and red tide disaster on the West Coast of Florida (stretching 135 miles along the southwest coast) are thankfully over for tourists and the tourist industry. However, they still left piles of dead fish, turtles, and whales littered all over the beaches, particularly on the West Coast, and overall marine life was devastated.

If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert, than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14 (saw it, was awesome)
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, March 17
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17

Repo Commentary-10/7/2018

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities (yes, I’ll be back!), but now having consulted on one book and two articles, I am in the midst of writing another book. And, we’ve got two conferences coming up! I intend to see as many of you as I can in Key Biscayne next week (where the RMA conference will be), Tuesday and Wednesday. Please find me! Prepare for moist and very hot, as the Heat Index has barely dipped below 100 degrees the last month or two.

The following month, we have Finadium’s Rates & Repo Conference in downtown Manhattan on 11/5, and I assume I will see all of you there, particularly the buyside clients!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and I believe on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.

Thursday’s Holidays or Events:

• National Taco Day (but not on a Tuesday, so largely unnoticed)
• National Vodka Day (quite noticed)
• Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day (also known as Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi-Catholic)
• National Cinnamon Roll Day
• eDay
• Improve Your Office Day
• National Poetry Day
• International Toot Your Flute Day
• National Golf Day (unfortunately I was too busy this week to golf)
• National Ships-in-Bottles Day
• Ten-Four Day
• World Animal Day
• Bring Your Bible to School Day
• Improve Your Office Day
• Day of Peace and Reconciliation (Mozambique)
• Independence Day in Lesotho
• The beginning of World Space Week
Monday is Columbus Day in the US, a celebration of Christopher Columbus’ accidental discovery of the New World in 1492. However, the holiday has been watered down by historians pointing to much earlier Viking expeditions to the New World. Also, the holiday is no longer celebrated with ALL businesses closed, but the US markets are still closed.

Some Famous People Born 10/4 in History:

• 1289-Louis X of France
• 1550-Charles IX of Sweden
• 1626-Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of Great Britain
• 1822-Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States
• 1895-Buster Keaton, American actor/director/producer
• 1916-Jan Murray, American comedian/actor/game show host
• 1923-Charlton Heston, actor/director/activist
• 1937-Jackie Collins, actor/author
• 1941-Roy Blount Jr., American humorist/journalist
• 1941-Anne Rice, author
• 1943-Jimy Williams, MLB
• 1944-Tony La Russa, MLB
• 1946-Susan Sarandon, actress/activist
• 1949-Armand Assanti, actor/producer
• 1957-Russell Simmons, founded Def Jam Recordings and Phat Farm
• 1959-Chris Lowe, English singer/keyboard player
• 1962-Jon Secada, Cuban-American singer/songwriter
• 1963-A.C. Green, NBA
• 1972-Kurt Thomas, NBA
• 1976-Alicia Silverstone, American actress/producer/author
• 1982-Tony Gwynn, Jr., MLB
• 1988-Derrick Rose, NBA

This Day in History (10/4):

• AD 23-Rebels sack the Chinese capital Chang’an during a peasant rebellion. The later decapitate Emperor Wang Mang.
• 1227-Assassination of Caliph al-Adil of Morocco.
• 1302-the Byzantine-Venetian War comes to an end.
• 1363-Battle of Lake Poyang: in one of the largest naval battles in history, Zhu Yuanzhang’s rebels defeat rival Chen Youliang.
• 1511-Formation of the Holy League of Aragon, the Papal States and Venice against France.
• 1535-the Coverdale Bible is printed, with translations into English by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.
• 1597-Governor Gonzalo Mendez de Canco begins to suppress a native uprising against his rule in what is now Georgia.
• 1636-Thirty Years’ War: the Swedish Army defeats the armies of Saxony and the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Wittstock.
• 1693-Nine Years’ War: Piedmontese troops are defeated by the French. This is truly historic, because, according to the neowin.net’s “Complete Military History of France”, as I recall that the French were only 3-17-7 in wars. According to this ‘authority’, the French claimed victory in the American Revolution, the French Revolution (since both sides were French), and this Nine Years’ War. Okay, I’ll stop beating up on France, although in 1986, they didn’t let our F-111’s fly over to support Libya…(and you wonder if I’ll remember that you didn’t call me back? LOL)
• 1895-Horace Rawlins wins the first US Open Men’s Golf Championship
• 1904-the IFK Goteborg football club is founded in Sweden
• 1917-WWI: the Battle of Broodseinde is fought between the British and German armies in Flanders.
• 1918-WWI: and explosion kills more than 100 people and destroys a Shell Loading Plant in New Jersey.
• 1927-Gutzon Borgium begins sculpting Mount Rushmore.
• 1936-the British Union of Fascists and various anti-fascist organizations violently clash in the Battle of Cable Street.
• 1941-Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis character debuts on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
• 1957-Sputnik I becomes the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.
• 1958-the current Constitution of France is adopted.
• 1960-an airliner crashes on takeoff from Boston’s Logan International Airport, killing 82 people.
• 1963-Hurricane Flora kills 6,000 people in Cuba and Haiti.
• 1965-Pope Paul VI begins the first papal visit to the Americas.
• 1966-Basutoland becomes independent from the UK and is renamed Lesotho.
• 1967-Omar Ali Saifuddien III of Brunei abdicates in favor of his son.
• 1983-Richard Noble sets a new land speed record of 633.468 mph at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
• 1985-the Free Software Foundation is founded.
• 1991-the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty is opened for signatures.
• 1992-the Rome General Peace Accords end a 16-year civil war in Mozambique.
• 1992-El Al Flight 1862 crashes into two apartment buildings in Amsterdam, killing 43 including 39 on the ground.
• 1993-tanks bombard the Russian Parliament, while demonstrators against President Yeltsin rally outside.
• 1997-the second largest cash robbery in US history occurs in North Carolina.
• 2001-Siberia Airlines flight 1812 crashes after being struck by an errant Ukrainian missile. 78 people are killed.
• 2003-the Maxim restaurant suicide bombing Israel killed 21 Israelis, both Jews and Arabs.
• 2004-SpaceShipOne wins the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight.
• 2006-WikiLeaks is launched.
• 2010-the Ajka plant accident-Hungary releases a million cubic metres of liquid alumina sludge, killing 9, injuring 122, and severaly contaminating two major rivers.

Fun Fact of the Day:

The “sleep” (eye discharge) in your eyes when you wake up helps seal your eyes in an airtight fashion when they are closed; prevents tears from spilling onto your cheeks, and helps keep tears that coat your eyes from evaporating. (Trust me, I know, after having a detached retina surgery, cataract surgery, and a torn retina in the other eye surgery, just over the last 2 years).

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Hope is patience with the lamp lit.”–Tertullian

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 9/20 closed at $70.35/barrel. Today (10/5) oil closed at $74.34, up another staggering $4/barrel, leading to AAA’s warning below about gasoline prices. EIA Report is threatening another oil price rally and the Iran sanctions loom. The move by Oil is now having an effect on gasoline, as gas jumped at my West Palm Beach gas station from $2.66/gallon last week to $2.77/gallon this week. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $113.77, much higher from where it was on 9/20. The USD was at 1.1524 versus the Euro, much stronger since 9/20. The USD is sharply stronger since 9/20 against the GBP, at $1.3117. The USD is somewhat stronger versus the CAD to $1.2948 since 9/20. Gold closed today at $1204.10/ounce, almost exactly where it was on 9/20. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 9/20, it closed at $6,395.00. Today, it closed at $6,543.05, still treading water. A provision in the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (replacing NAFTA) creates a major hurdle for Canada to negotiate a trade deal with China. German Economy Minister Altmaier says that US and EU trade barriers must decrease.

Global Financial News:

The CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management, Christopher Willcox, said at the SIFMA Annual Meeting that robo-advisors provide important technology that benefits the end user but that they also have limitations. Another panelist, Michelle Seitz, CEO of Russell Investments, went on to say that even if tech giants like Google and Amazon develop their own robo-advisors for the public, the companies will still be subject to the same fiduciary guidelines and regulations as other financial institutions. Analysts believe that JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and BOA, who are due to release Q3 results in mid-October may show significant gains. The WSJ points out that typically the year after midterm elections historically is the best in the 4-year Presidential cycle for the US stock market. Unemployment rate hit a 49-year low in the US, but growth slows.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed at 26,656.77 on 9/20, but closed today at 26,447.05, as it fell 180 points on the day. So, it had made its way all the way back, but then fell. S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20 of 2,930.66, closing today down 16 points to 2,885.58. Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28 high of 8,030.04, closing down 91 points today to 7,788.45. US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting, and continue to blast higher still. Today, 2years closed at 2.88% (a full 7bp higher than on 9/20), 3years closed at 2.99% (a full 10bp higher than on 9/20), 5years closed at 3.07% (9bp higher than on 9/20), 7years closed at 3.18% (a whopping 14bp higher than on 9/20), 10years closed at 3.23% (a whopping 15bp higher than on 9/20), and 30years closed at 3.40% (17bp higher than on 9/20!). (yields have gone dramatically higher), closing yesterday on 2years at 2.81% (up 8bp), 3years at 2.89% (up 11bp), 5years at 2.96 (up 13bp), 7years at 3.04% (up 15bp), 10years at 3.08% (up 14bp), and 30years at 3.23% (up 14bp). According to MarketWatch, the spike in US Treasury yields led to the largest decline in S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite since the summer, pointing out that the 10year Treasury yield at the highest level in 7 years is attracting investors to bonds and out of stocks. Historically, bonds and stocks have moved in an inverse relationship to each other, except for extreme moments. If it’s true that investors are moving out of stocks and into bonds for the attractive yield, that exodus will eventually cause bond prices to go up and yields to go down and normalize. The CBOE Volatility Index shot up more than 30%.

Housing News:

Hamptons’ millionaires reportedly have built luxury panic rooms to hide from MS-13. Rent payments in the US jumped an annual 2.9% in the 3rd quarter, an analysis by RealPage shows, faster then Q2’s 2.5%. The Occupancy rate also grew to 95.8% from 95.4%, with the strongest rental markets in the Sunbelt. According to a recent article in The Real Deal, Manhattan is now a buyer’s market at all price points. The total number of available homes in Manhattan is at the highest for the month since 2011. In Brooklyn and Queens, total inventory for June was the most since 2008. Home prices continue to plummet in Australia, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. The biggest threat to the housing market there is unemployment.

Repo News:  

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. There has been a lot of volatility in repo rates lately, despite the US Treasury yield curve’s one-way direction (much higher in rates). Part of it is likely the pricing or not pricing of FOMC rate hikes. Part of it is likely the huge supply of US Treasuries which has finally abated. But, still, the intraday volatility is high. You could get a repo quote at 8am and then find another quote in the afternoon 15-20bp different. GSE cash started hitting the market this week and brought funding rates down. It could get down to mid-1.90s before the cash leaves on 9/24. Everyone thinks there will be a Fed tightening of 25bp on 9/26 FOMC, so funding rates will lean higher anyway, with the full impact the day after on 9/27 (since the meeting is at 2:00pm in the afternoon). It will be interesting to hear what they say in the Statement, but also interesting to see what they do to the IOER. At the last tightening in June, they only raised the IOER to 1.95%, up 20bp, not 25bp. So, the question is: will they raise the IOER only 20bp again, or only 15bp, since the 20bp move last time didn’t have the desired effect of lowering the Fed Funds rate? Reportedly, some 100,000 Fed Funds futures contracts have been traded to bet on that question. The dynamic between IOER (where banks and credit unions can invest their cash with the Fed), Repo rates (where all could invest their cash securitized), and Fed Funds (where certain banks and GSEs could invest their cash unsecured) is more important than it every was before. In Specials, the 2year note is trading around 1.50% and looks like its going to be quite active.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference for over 6,000 members in Chicago on 11/4-11/7, discussing 140 topics in 8 different areas of managing liquidity and risk.
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 2.25%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

On 9/20, as expected, the Fed tightened again, raising the Fed Funds target rate by another 25bp to 2.25%, although Fed Funds have been trading a little lower. The Federal Reserve will propose a rule this year to simplify the stress tests for regional banks and to reduce their frequency, per Randal Quarles. The rule would apply to banks with $100 billion-$250 billion in assets.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

There is still a devastating aftermath in Indonesia from an earthquake and tsunami. At least 11 people have died after an earthquake rattled Haiti’s northern coast. The latest earthquakes:

10/7/18 5.9 19km NW of Ti Port-de-Paix, Haiti
9/30/18 6.6 260km NNE of Ndoi Island, Fiji
9/28/18 7.5 78km N of Palu, Indonesia
9/16/18 6.5 S of Fiji Islands

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene done
Isaac done
Joyce done
Kirk done
Leslie Tropical Storm current
Michael current
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. Tropical Storm Leslie, with winds of 60 mph, remains in the Atlantic, not currently putting any land in danger. Tropical Storm Michael, with winds of 50 mph, is getting stronger and expected to dump heavy rains over western Cuba, particularly as it is now only moving at 3 mph. The threat to NE US Gulf of Mexico coast is increasing.

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18. Currently, in the Eastern North Pacific, we still have Hurricane Sergio, although winds have decreased to 100 mph from 125 mph.

As for the weather, those of you who are visiting Florida next week for the RMA will find that it has cooled off slightly from 95 degrees to 88-90 degrees, but humidity is still rather high. A slow moving storm system is bringing a threat of heavy rainfall and flooding over the Plains states and Tropical Storm Michael is looming for the Gulf of Mexico states to the North by mid-week.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season has ended. MLB attendance was down 4% this year, failing to top 70 million. If you want to know what’s wrong with baseball, read further down. If you are an NL Central or NL West fan, it was an exciting finish. Somehow, the Cubs botched winning the Division and wound up in a tiebreaker 163rd game on Monday, losing to the Brewers, who had won 8 games in a row. That forced the Cubs to play in the one-game Wildcard game the following day against the Rockies, who similarly lost in the NL West Divisional 163rd game tiebreaker to the Dodgers, and so had to play in the NL Wildcard game. The Cubs lost in 13 innings, 2-1, so the Rockies moved on, but a tired Rockies they must be, after playing Monday in LA, then Tuesday in Chicago, and now Thursday in the best of 5 NLDS series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. It took extra innings, but the Brewers beat the Rockies in Game 1 3-2. In the other NLDS series, the Dodgers hosted the Braves and blanked them in Game 1 6-0. The whole playoff format is a mess, as the team with the best record since the All Start break and No.10 in MLB, Tampa, is sitting out. But, I’ll go into my consulting for MLB later in this Repo Commentary and my thoughts for the Commissioner. Maybe, I should interview for THAT job!. Over in the AL, it was foregone conclusion, as the Red Sox won 108 games, the best record in the MLB, best record in franchise history of over 100 years, and took the AL East. Likewise, the Astros cruised to an AL West title, with the third-best record, and the Indians easily won the AL Central. The Yankees won 100 games, easily taking the first AL Wild Card spot, the first time that the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East had ever won 100 games or more each in the same year. The A’s took the other AL Wild Card spot and the Yankees and A’s faced each other Wednesday night for the single-game elimination, with the winner to face the Red Sox. The Yankees won pretty easily, setting up a best of five series, starting in Boston against the Red Sox. The last time the two rivals played was 14 years ago, in the infamous 7-game ALCS, the greatest comeback in history and the reverse of the 86-year Red Sox Bambino Curse. After 2 games, the Yankees and Red Sox are tied 1-1, as the series heads to Yankee Stadium for Game 3. The Astros hosted the Indians for the other ALDS best of five series, and promptly flexed their pitching muscle, going up 2-0 in first 2 games. There were actually 4 playoff games Friday, as the Astros hosted the Indians in game 1 of their ALDS in the afternoon, the Brewers hosted the Rockies in game 2 of their NLDS in the afternoon (and won that one two, so are now up 2-0), the Red Sox hosted the Yankees in game 1 of their ALDS Friday night, and the Dodgers hosted the Braves in game 2 of their NLDS Friday night (and took a 2-0 series lead). Here are some cool stats about MLB playoffs:
• All Red Sox fans from 1975 on should know this one, but there have been 16 times in postseason history when a batter has reached base because of catcher’s interference. It didn’t happen in postseasons from 1985-2008, but has happened 9 times since 2009. The instance I was referring to in 1975 was in the World Series Game 7, when Reds’ Ed Armbrister interfered with catcher Carlton Fisk of the Red Sox in throwing a runner out, which ultimately decided the game in the Reds’ favor.
• Only 4 times has a postseason series MVP come from the losing team.
• Only 3 players in postseason history have hit a HR on their birthday (Willie Aiken, Evan Longoria, Kolten Wong).
• Only 1 pitcher has ever committed a postseason balk on his birthday, Les Straker of the Twins.
• Only 4 times has a postseason game ended with a walkoff sacrifice bunt.
• This is shocking, 19 times runners have stolen home plate (out of 70 attempts!) in postseason history.
• The all-time record for postseason series batting average is Lloyd McClendon in 1992 with .727 in 16 plate appearances.
• Here is another astounding fact, there have been 21 postseason HRs by pitchers.
• The player who saw the most pitches all-time in postseason history was Derek Jeter, with 2,749. The next closest was his teammate, Bernie Williams, with 2,186. Jeter also has the most hits in postseason history with 200, most balls in play with 508, and most strikeouts with 135.
• Speaking of strikeouts, the MLB record for most postseason at-bats without a strikeout is Yogi Berra (90).
• There has only been one triple-play in postseason history and it was turned unassisted by Indians’ Bill Wambsganss in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series against the Dodgers.
• The most Walkoff Wins in a postseason series is 4 in the 1991 World Series between the Twins and the Braves.
• Despite popular belief, the Washington Nationals franchise HAS WON a playoff series, but they were technically the Montreal Expos at the time in 1981.
• Only once has a postseason game been replayed, in 1982, between the Braves and Cardinals in Game 1. Rain halted the game after 4 ½ innings, 3 outs before it would have been official, which would have made the game be suspended and resumed from that point the next day. Instead, the game was called and teams played a new Game 1 the next day. In 2009, MLB changed its rainout rule, so that all games resume from the point at which they are suspended, no matter what inning.

The hapless Orioles, after a record-setting losing season of 47-115, let go of GM Dan Duquette, a former Red Sox cast-off, and manager Buck Showalter, a former Yankees cast-off. The Angels started of the annual bloodbath of managers, by firing longtime (19 years) manager Mike Scioscia. The well-like and successful manager will likely return to baseball at some point. The Cubs announced that they will bring Joe Madden back as manager for 2019, but are not yet discussing a contract extension with him. Cubs’ Addison Russell released a statement following announcement of his 40-game suspension by MLB, for violating MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy. Despite the Twins making the playoffs a year ago, Twins manager Paul Molitor has been fired.

As for baseball awards, AL MVP seems to be locked up by Red Sox Mookie Betts, who led the Majors with a .346 batting average and 10.2 WAR and became the first MLB player ever to go 30/30 (30 HRs and 30 stolen bases) while leading the Majors in batting average, but he has some competition from Red Sox teammate J.D. Martinez (whom he narrowly knocked out of Triple Crown) who led the Majors with 130 RBIs and the AL with 43 HRs while hitting .330, Indians’ Francisco Lindor, Indians’ Jose Ramirez, and Angels’ Mike Trout. NL MVP honors probably come down to Brewers’ Christian Yelich (who also just missed a Triple Crown) with an outside chance for Cubs’ Javier Baez and Rockies’ Nolan Arenado. NL Rookie of the Year seems to be coming down to Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nationals’ Juan Soto. AL Rookie of the Year seems to be coming down to Rays’ Miguel Andujar, Angels’ sensation Shohei Ohtani, Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, and Rays’ Joey Wendle. AL Cy Young appears to be coming down to Rays’ Blake Snell, Astros’ Justin Verlander, Indians’ Corey Kluber, and Red Sox Chris Sale. NL Cy Young seems to be coming down to Mets’ Jacob deGrom, Nats’ Max Scherzer, and Phillies’ Aaron Nola.

Okay, where do I start? America’s pastime is in serious trouble. Granted, it doesn’t have the 20% drop in ratings of Pro Football, but that could be because that causes lifelong/life-shortening debilitating injuries or because it has become a political forum for mega-million-dollar athletes. We are talking baseball. So, let’s start with the National League, why does it feel it needs to continue this charade of having the pitcher bat? Gone are the days when Babe Ruth hit 3 HRs a game that he pitched and we have yet to see the full potential of an Ohtani. Let it go. We don’t need the automatic out during a rally and we certainly don’t need starters getting injured on the basebaths trying to slide. Why do we have a winner-take-all Wild Card one game playoff? Why can’t we just take the six teams in each League who have the best six records and put them in the Playoffs? For that matter, with NHL and NBA having 82 regular season games and NFL having 16, why do we put up with MLB seasons being 162 games long? It’s like a season of attrition…who doesn’t get the most injuries, who can outlast the other guys, who has the most relievers, etc. Relievers, let’s talk about this new uber-category of baseball pitcher. What happened to the old days when coaches developed players in the minor leagues who had 2 really good pitches and taught them a 3rd and a 4th pitch, so they could become an ace starter, like Jon Lester, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Verlander, Sale, etc.? Gone are the days of these premium starters because baseball and coaches now focus on specialty pitchers and relievers, who come into a game for an inning or two only, but can play every day and wear out, and have shortened careers and get paid a lot less money than an ace starter. I remember when “the Monster” Dick Radatz (one of my coaches) pitched for the Red Sox and pitched a complete double-header, both games 9 innings each. That would be unheard of in today’s baseball games. The new fans may not get to see a Roger Clemens or Bob Gibson, but instead a series of 4 or 5 relievers each game (similar to how the A’s, aka “MONEYBALL” team, have operated this year). It’s very sad, which brings me to my last point on this soapbox, which is removing the ‘chance’ of baseball, and relegating it to cybermetrics and tendencies, that are disgorged from iPads in the dugout and MacPros and printed on laminated cards that each position player can stick in his cap or stick in his back pocket, so he knows exactly where to play each batter for each pitch, so he knows every tendency or pattern they have. Even the pitchers now have the same laminated cards, as do the catchers, to determine, well if the batter swings at an inside slider, he is more often likely to swing at an outside curveball next, so they can determine their pitch selections and locations. What does this all do to the game of baseball? It makes it boring. Is it any surprise that only 16 players in MLB hit over .300 this year? They had to hit into tendency shifts and deal with pitchers who had pitch selection cards. Do I have the solutions to these vexing problems with America’s game? Yes, I do, but that’s for another Repo Commentary.

Golf:

The PGA of America announced that 8 events will be hosted at Congressional Golf Club, including the 2031 PGA Championship and 2036 Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour Champions are playing in South Dakota for the first time, as Andy North and Jack Nicklaus host an event at Sanford International. The 42nd Ryder Cup was held at Le Golf National in lle-de-France, France this past weekend. Thoma Bjorn captained Europe and Jim Furyk captained USA. USA got whollopped 17 ½-10 ½. For Europe, Francesco Molinari (who crushed Tiger Woods), Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton, and Tommy Fleetwood all did really well. For USA, Brooks Koepka was awesome and Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas were okay. USA Captain’s picks Bryson DeChambreau, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Tony Finau were not very good. Although USA was the defending champions, they had lost the last five matches in Europe; now six matches. Phil Mickelson complained that the Ryder Cup rough was “almost unplayable”. Well, don’t worry about Phil, as he promptly flew half way around the world, across 9 timezones, to be in the Safeway Open, in Napa, CA, and shot an opening round 65. He is trailing leader, Chase Wright, by one stroke, in what is technically the first tournament of the new season. Four months after a horrific car accident, Bud Cauley is back on Tour at the Safeway Open. The University of Iowa’s golf team was disqualified for a rare rules violation and plummeted in the college rankings. The team disqualification was simply because they didn’t have enough players to post a score, as one had withdrawn with an injury and a second was disqualified. Why he was disqualified is a bizarre story of playing a ball, believing it went into a hazard, so playing a provisional, then finding the first ball and your opponent inadvertently playing your provisional, and OMG, I can’t explain it. You can look it up, it’s crazy! Okay, now the bizarre golf news that you have probably seen all over media, including this morning’s Today Show…an errant drive by superstar Brooks Koepka hit a woman bystander in the eye, making her eye ‘explode’ and causing permanent blindness in that eye. The fan is planning a major lawsuit for this life-changing event. (and you thought I couldn’t bring up my eye surgery again in one Repo Commentary!)

Fighting:

Boxing

Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua’s recent opponent is trashing Joshua and Deontay Wilder’s punching power in an interview. Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder is coming up. Anthony Joshua has made a new offer to Deontay Wilder for a Wembley Stadium showdown. But, as I said last week in the Repo Commentary, if Anthony Joshua wants to establish himself as one of the great heavyweights, just like his countryman Lennox Lewis, he’s going to have to eventually fight in the US and stop fighting just in his home country. Khan says he is annoyed that Floyd Mayweather has been “ducking” him for years.

MMA:

Conor McGregor returned to the Octagon to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. Khabib, the Russian, is the undefeated (27-0) light heavyweight champion. I rarely watch MMA anymore, not just because of the $80 pay-per-view, but I happened to be at a restaurant showing it and I watched the entire undercard and main card. The main event turned out to be a historic one, even if it did not show the UFC in its best light, and harkened back to the Gulotta/Bowe boxing match melee at MSG (that I was at and in the middle of) and the infamous Tyson/Holyfield boxing match ear brawl in Las Vegas. First the result, Khabib won over Conor with a 4th round naked-rear chokehold that forced the former flamboyant champion from Ireland to tap out. But, once that fight was over, many more fights began, as the Las Vegas venue erupted in several fights. The 18,000 fans went into a frenzy, when Khabib first stood over a recovering Conor, yelling at him and spitting on him, then leapt out of the Octagon to jump on Conor’s coach and also Bellator fighter. As he went out of the ring and began that pandemonium, which led to several fans getting into their own brawls, three of his team jumped Conor in the Octagon, punching him in the stomach and at least twice to the back of the head. UFC cancelled Khabib’s post-fight interview and belt award and immediately reviewed the tapes of the post-fight shenanigans, ultimately paying Conor his $3 million (more for PPV to come) check for the fight, but withholding Khabib’s $2 million check (and PPV to come) for further investigation. That investigation continues as authorities try to determine if there should be criminal charges filed and if UFC should strip Khabib of his prize money and his title.

In the rest of the card, Tony Ferguson defeated Anthony Pettis with a 2nd round TKO (had to be stopped due to broken hand); Dominick Reyes defeated Ovince Saint Preux with unanimous decision, after riding Preux’s back for the last round (which I’ve never seen); Derrick Lewis defeated Alexander Volkiov via 3rd round TKO; Michelle Waterson defeated Felice Herrig in a brutal unanimous decision; Jusseir Formiga defeated Sergio Pettis via unanimous decision; Vincente Luque defeated Jalin Turner in a brutal 1st round barrage of punches for TKO; Aspen Ladd defeated Tonya Evinger in her 1st round barrage of punches for a TKO; and Scott Holtzman defeated Alan Patrick in a 3rd round TKO of raining elbows.

Racing:

The wins just keep piling up for Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes. Does this guy every lose? He just won the Russian Grand Prix, his 8th win of the season, ahead of Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, and Verstappen. There are only 5 more races left this year.

NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.
9/1 Bojangles’ Southern 500 in Darlington was won by Brad Keselowski.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.
9/16 South Point 400 in Las Vegas was won by Brad Keselowski, his 3rd win in a row, setting him up well for the upcoming Playoffs.

THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PLAYOFF BEGAN FOR 16 DRIVERS.
9/21 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond was won by Kyle Busch.
9/29 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte was won by R. Blaney and whittled the field down from 16 to 12.
10/6 Monster Energy NASCAR at Dover
10/13 Alabama 500 at Talladega
10/20 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas City
10/27 First Data 500 at Martinsville
11/3 AAA Texas 500 at Texas
11/10 Can-Am 500 at Phoenix
11/17 Final at Homestead

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now most of the teams have played for 4 weeks. Ohio State won a crucial Big Ten battle with rival Penn State 27-26, which may have not only ramifications for the Big Ten title but also for the College Football Playoffs. It pushed OSU up to No.3 and knocked PSU down to No.11. Former Clemson RB C.J. Fuller, 22, felt chest pains before death, according to his aunt. Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman (collapsed lung) has been released from the hospital. Alabama’s coach Nick Saban is sounding off on the lack of student attendance at home games. I think I just saw that he is being paid $8.3 million/year, Urban Meyer of Ohio State is being paid $7.6 million/year, and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is being overpaid $7.5 million/year. Kevin Olsen of Charlotte, brother of Panthers’ Greg Olsen, has been found not guilty of rape. 4-star RB Sampson James has decommitted from Ohio State. Late scores from Saturday’s games: in the best game of the day, Texas upset Oklahoma, despite a 21-point Q4 for the Sooners, 48-45; in the second best game of the day, South Carolina beat Missouri 37-36; in the third best game of the day, Miami upset FSU 28-27; No.1 Alabama had no trouble with Arkansas 65-31; No.3 Ohio State had no problem with Indiana 49-26; No.2 Georgia continued to roll, beating Vanderbilt 41-13; North Carolina State upset BC 28-23; Iowa State upset Oklahoma State 48-42; Florida took care of rival LSU; Auburn was upset by Mississippi State 23-9, UCF remained undefeated beating SMU, Maryland was no match for Michigan; Washington survived a scare with UCLA, No.2 Georgia crushed Vanderbilt, my hapless MSU lost to Northwestern 29-19 No.5 Notre Dame solidly beat Virginia Tech, and No.15 Wisconsin finally won beating Nebraska.

As of 9/29, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (5-0)
2. Georgia (5-0)
3. Ohio State (5-0) up from No.4
4. Clemson (5-0) down from No.3
5. LSU (5-0)
6. Notre Dame (5-0) up from No.8
7. Oklahoma (5-0) down from No.6
8. Auburn (4-1) up from No.10
9. West Virginia (4-0) up from No.12
10. Washington (4-1) up from No.11
11. Penn State (4-1) down from No.9
12. UCF (4-0) up from No.13 (and getting a lot more love on the poll this year)
13. Kentucky (5-0) up from No.17
14. Stanford (4-1) down from No.7
15. Michigan (4-1) down from No.14
16. Wisconsin (3-1) down from No.15
17. Miami (4-1) down from No.16
18. Oregon (4-1) up from No.19
19. Texas (4-1) down from No.18
20. Michigan State (3-1) up from No.21
21. Colorado (4-0) up from unranked
22. Florida (4-1) up from unranked
23. North Carolina State (4-0) up from unranked
24. Virginia Tech (3-1) up from unranked
25. Oklahoma State (4-1) up from unranked

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is under way. (okay, since I got to this part on Sunday, I have some results which I will type in RED for you. After Sunday’s action, the 2 undefeated teams are still undefeated and there are no longer any winless NFL teams.) QB Terrelle Pryor says he is unhappy with his role in the Jets offense. Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers denies rift with coach Mike McCarthy. Seahawks’ LB Mychal Kendricks has been suspended indefinitely for insider trading. Dolphins to release DT Jordan Phillips. Seahawks (and Trail Blazers) owner Paul Allen announced that his cancer has returned. In case you forgot, WR Dez Bryant is still a free agent and reportedly now wants to sign with his old team, the Cowboys. Speaking of holdouts, RB Le’Veon Bell is expected to report to Steelers during Week 7 bye. Week 5 is upon us tonight (Thursday night, in case I don’t finish typing this until Friday). WR Julian Edelman returns from a 4-game suspension for the Patriots tonight. Actually, he didn’t play the entire 2017 season either, with a torn ACL. The Patriots went on to crush the Colts 38-14 last night and Edelman played a big part at wide receiver and punt returner. Tom Brady threw his 500th career TD pass. Brady is currently on track to earn none of his $5 million in incentives. The Patriots have 2 tough tests ahead, the undefeated Chiefs and the uber-defensive Bears. Here are the Week 5 matchups and the latest Las Vegas odds:

Thursday 10/4 8:20p
Colts (1-3) @ Patriots (2-2), Pats picked by 10.5 PATRIOTS WON EASILY 38-24.

Sunday 10/7 1:00p
Titans (3-1) @ Bills (1-3), Titans by 3.5 HAPLESS TITANS FOUND A WAY TO LOSE 13-12.

Falcons (1-3) @ Steelers (1-2-1), Steelers by 3 STEELERS CRUSHED THE FALCONS 41-17.

Broncos (2-2) @ Jets (1-3), Jets by 1 JETS DEMOLISHED THE BRONCOS 34-16.

Jaguars (3-1) @ Chiefs (4-0), Chiefs by 3 JAGUARS NEVER SHOWED UP AND CHIEFS CRUISED TO 30-14 WIN TO STAY UNDEFEATED.

Packers (2-1-1) @ Lions (1-3), packers by 1 ALTHOUGH CRUSHING THE PACKERS 20-0 AT HALFTIME, THE LIONS HAD TO HOLD ON TO WIN 31-23 IN THE END.

Ravens (3-1) @ Browns (1-2-1), Ravens by 3 RAVENS WERE PATHETIC, BUT BROWNS KICKER MISSED 3 KICKS UNTIL AN OT ONE THAT WON THE GAME FOR BROWNS 12-9. IT WAS THE FIRST WIN FOR THE BROWNS ON A SUNDAY IN 36 GAMES AND FIRST WIN AGAINST A DIVISION RIVAL IN EXACTLY 3 YEARS (ALSO, ODDLY, AN OT WIN OVER THE RAVENS).

Giants (1-3) @ Panthers (2-1), Panthers by 7 GIANTS LED PANTHERS 17-3, AND 31-30 WITH 1:08 TO PLAY, BUT WOUND UP LOSING LATE 33-31 TO A PANTHERS’ RECORD 63-YARD FIELD GOAL.

Dolphins (3-1) @ Bengals (3-1), Bengals by 6.5 BENGALS COME FROM 17-0 DEFICIT AND BEAT DOLPHINS 27-17

Sunday 10/7 4:05p
Raiders (1-3) @ Chargers (2-2), Chargers by 5.5 THE CHARGERS WON 26-10.

Sunday 10/7 4:25p
Cardinals (0-4) @ 49ers (1-3), 49ers by 4 THE CARDINALS SHOCKED THE 49ers 28-18 AND GOT THEIR FIRST WIN.

Vikings (1-2-1) @ Eagles (2-2), Eagles by 3 THE VIKINGS UPSET THE EAGLES 23-21.

Rams (4-0)@ Seahawks (2-2), Rams by 7 THE RAMS HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH THE SEAHAWKS BUT PREVAILED 33-31.

Sunday 10/7 8:20p
Cowboys (2-2) @ Texans (1-3), Texans by 3.5

Monday 10/8 8:15p
Redskins (2-1) @ Saints (3-1), Saints by 6.5

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. My Bruins were crushed 7-0 by the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals. Of course, Bruins’ bad boy, Brad Marchand, was ejected in the game. John Tavares scored in his Maple Leafs regular-season debut. Capitals’ Tom Wilson has been suspended for 20 games by the NHL for his hit on Blues’ Oskar Sundquvist. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. Gary Bettman says the NHL is eyeing an early December vote on Seattle expansion. As Seattle has already renovated and retrofitted to NHL specifications its KeyArena for 2020 and longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke and Hollywood’s Jerry Bruckheimer made their multimillion dollar down payments on the team and more than 30,000 avid fans have gotten in line for season tickets, several names for the new Seattle franchise are being thrown around, including these 13 (in order of Las Vegas odds): Emeralds, Totems, Rainiers, Evergreens, Kraken, Renegades, Sea Lions, Firebirds, Cougars, Eagles, Seals, Whales, and Sockeyes. Sharks’ Joe Thornton has finally shaved that long beard.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well and LeBron James made his highly touted debut with the Lakers, but they lost. There are still plenty of trade rumors out there, including one between the Timberwolves and Heat for Jimmy Butler. The Mavericks are betting on a former professional gambler as their “strategic thinker”. ESPN is citing the move as another example of how the NBA is embracing the gambling industry. This is an interesting bridge between sports betting and basketball, featuring an expert on coaches’ strategies and individual on-court officials’ tendencies. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are facing more workplace misconduct allegations reportedly. Celtics’ Kyrie Irving has verbally committed to return to Celtics. LeBron James has beefed up security at his L.A. home. Cavaliers’ JR Smith will reimburse a fan after tossing his cellphone. WNBA president Lisa Borders is resigning to become president of Time’s Up. The NBA is considering removing color restrictions on sneakers, let the craziness begin!

Travel News:

AAA is warning Americans that gasoline prices will likely exceed $3/gallon, hitting 4-year highs. Officials believe that travelers at Newark Airport may have been exposed to measles. An Emirates Air flight attendant just won Miss Scotland 2018 and then went right back to work flying. Lake Tahoe has a new underwater trail that lets you explore over 100 years of history. An “aggressive” American passenger on a KLM flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam prompted the Dutch Air Force to send two F-16 fighter jets to escort the plane to its destination. Delta Air Lines’ Airbus A220 made its first flight. I know that some of you won’t be able to see the photos embedded in the text of the Repo Commentary, but for the others I am including some interesting photos. Here is the US Air Force’s C-5 Galaxy:

Here is the Russian MiG-21, which is still used by several countries 50 years later, and became the most-produced supersonic jet in history:

This is the Chinese Kongjing-2000 Radar Plane:

This one is the Russian Tupolev Tu-160, the largest and heaviest combat aircraft in use today:

Here is the US Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady for high-altitude reconnaissance:

This one is an Antonov An-124, the world’s heaviest aircraft and the largest military transport aircraft in use today:

Health News:

I went and got my annual flu shot 3 weeks ago, so I’m all set to meet and greet all of you when you come down to Key Biscayne for the RMA and when I see you up in NYC next month for the Finadium conference. 6.5 million pounds of beef have been recalled in California, due to possible taint with salmonella Newport, per the USDA. After 20 residents in Pasadena, CA have been sickened with flea-borne typhus, Los Angeles officials confirmed an outbreak in downtown LA as well. A customer of British restaurant chain Pret a Manger reportedly died from an allergic reaction after a food label issue. A 254-pound watermelon has set a new state fair record. La Croix water is being accused in a lawsuit of containing the same ingredient found in cockroach insecticide. People are dying for the perfect selfie. According to a new study, 259 people have died worldwide in taking selfie pictures in recent years (since 2011). 72% of the deaths have been men and drowning was the most common cause of death. The largest number of deaths were in India.

Animal News:

A four-foot rattlesnake was saved on a Jupiter, FL beach, having apparently been swimming in the ocean for hours and extremely tired. The First Lady of the US, Melania Trump, visited The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage in Kenya. Officials are asking for help to identify the murderers who poisoned and killed 5 lions at a South African wildlife park this week. CITES has censured Japan for illegally trading whale products from its controversial “scientific” whaling program. $1.3 million worth of illegal wildlife parts were burned by officials in Myanmar, as opposition grows while trafficking and trade into China escalates. Diane Von Furstenberg’s clothing line plans to cut animal fur from its fashion line. A hunter in Alaska had to be hospitalized, after the bear that he shot and killed tumbled on top of him. Four captive dolphins died in Taiji, Japan this past week. Sunda the elephant at the Topeka Zoo has died. A critically endangered Sumatran tiger, pregnant with 2 cubs, was found dead after escaping from an animal trap in Indonesia. Authorities arrested a man in connection with the death of the tiger. The man reportedly worked as a security guard for an oil palm plantation. There are only about 400 Sumatran tigers still left in existence. A Tasmanian woman who was bitten by a shark in Queensland’s Whitsundays has flown back to Tasmania, after a two-week stay in Australia undergoing reconstructive surgery on her legs. A day after her attacks, a 12-year-old girl was also bitten on the leg in Cid Harbour. 3 sharks were shot and killed near the site of the attacks. Officials also placed drumlins in the area and caught several tiger sharks. A 13-year-old boy attacked by shark a week ago while lobster diving at Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas was released from the hospital on Thursday, having recovered from critical injuries to upper left side of his body. In October, admission is free for kids at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Your intentions may be pure, but wild animals are still wild animals, as a villager in Bageshwar, India was attacked by a leopard as he tried to rescue the injured animal, suffering bits to his hands and legs. Aoshima Island in Japan has become overrun by cats, who now outnumber humans on the island 10-to-1. They were introduced to the island on ships in the area and have grown to a population of greater than 200. This very large alligator was photographed in an unusual place in Louisiana (not a very ‘welcome’ Welcome mat!):

Entertainment News:

I wasn’t sure exactly where to put this…the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances Arnold for her work on directed evolution of enzymes and to George Smith and Greg Winter for their work on phage display of peptides and antibodies.
The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland for their work on laser science. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on cancer immunotherapy was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” Ellen DeGeneres, in a recent intereview, joined the #MeToo movement, saying that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 15. Comedian Katt Williams has been arrested for alleged assault on a hired driver, during an argument about taking him and his dog from the Portland, OR airport to a performance. Tatum O’Neal reveals she survived multiple sexual assaults when she was young and condemns on social media President Trump’s treatment of Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Somewhat related, CBS news anchor Kris Long has resigned after his pro-Kavanaugh online post drew backlash from fans. Kate Hudson is sharing photos of newborn baby daughter Rani on Instagram. After Kanye West gave an unexpected and unplanned pro-Trump rant on last week’s Saturday Night Live, cast member Pete Davidson appeared on this week’s “Weekend Update” skit to slam the rapper’s views and mental health. Kanye West has again deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts. Meanhile, wife, Kim Kardashian, just showed off a racy, barely-there bikini in a new Instagram photo. Actor Scott Wilson, of Walking Dead, has died at age 76. Keira Knightley has slammed Duchess Kate Middleton’s “stylish” post-birth appearance in explicit essay. Did you know that Kate Middleton’s brother James is now a tour guide in Scotland? Duchess Meaghan Markle’s sister was turned away from Kensington Palace, after arriving uninvited. There is another Royal Wedding coming 10/12, for Princess Eugenie. Her parents, Fergie and Prince Andrew have been putting on a very united front, days before the wedding. Steven Seagal stormed out of a live interview, when asked about rape and sexual harassment allegations. Actress Rose McGowan, who triggered Harvey Weinstein’s downfall says the #MeToo movement is “all bullxxxx” and a “lie to make lily-livered Hollywood types feel better.” 102-year-old Dame Olivia de Havilland claims that producer Ryan Murphy and network FX never asked to use her name or likeness in their 8-part series Feud-Bette and Joan. Tom Arnold and Mark Burnett’s alleged altercation about a missing Donald Trump tape from The Apprentice is still under review by LAPD. Bachelor contestant Cristy Caserta is dead at 38, passing out during training course, according to police. Audrey Wells, the screenwriter of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and THE HATE U GIVE, has died at 58. Will Vinton, the animator behind the California Raisins, has died. Jamie Doran and wife Amelia Warner are expecting 3rd child together. Iggy Azalea has abruptly cancelled her “Bad Girls” tour. The Queen of Country, Lorretta Lynn, feeling better, has just recorded a new album. Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz married Brad Hoss. Riverdale, based on the Archie comic books/strip, has cast Jughead’s Mom and Sister. Teen model Kala Gerber may have set some kind of modelling record, walking a staggering 25 shows in NYC, Milan, and Paris, including 4 runways in just one day. Gwyneth Paltrow is living it up in Paris on her honeymoon with new husband, Brad Falchuck. Brad Pitt is filming movie ONCE UPON A TIME. Tina Turner says she blames violent ex Ike Turner for her son’s suicide. Denise Richards, recently married, and Camille Grammer filmed over dinner for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, while their feud with show matriarch, Lisa Vanderpump, continues. Friends of Justin Bieber think he’s having an “identity crisis.” Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has revealed that she suffered with depression and also cried when forced to walk a fashion show topless. Kate Moss’ daughter made her modeling debut. Today Show’s Megyn Kelly might be leaving NBC. Tribune Publishing and McClatchy are closing in on a merger. Salon Media’s longtime financial chief has resigned. YES Network, owned by the New York Yankees, has had its best ratings in six seasons. Boy Meets World star Will Friedle revealed that he stopped working on-camera due to anxiety disorder. Michael Jordan made two enormous donations to Hurricane Florence victims.

This week’s box-office was okay, maybe because of the weather. NIGHT SCHOOL with Kevin Hart, debuted at No.1 with $27.3 million (and a budget of $29 million); SMALLFOOT (the animated movie about the bigfoots finding a human) debuted at No.2, with $23 million; THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS and Kevin Black, fell from No.1 to No.3, but still made $12.6 million (putting ahead of its budget of $42 million), in its 2nd week; A SIMPLE FAVOR dropped from No.2 to No.4, with just $6.5 million in its 3rd week; and THE NUN fell from No.3 to No.5, with $5.4 million, it its 4th week (bringing its total to a whopping $109 million win for a $22 million movie!). Just missing the Top 5 was the debut of HELL FEST, which made only $5.1 million in limited release and No.6.

Movies coming out this week is a heavy load of movies: PIPELINE, ’96, ANDHADHUN, BEYOND FEST-CRASH & SPIDER, BLUE MY MIND, NOTA, RETRO NIGHTMARES, SMUT WITHOUT SMUT: BIZARRO, THE HENRIK MANEUVER, A CROOKED SOMEBODY, A STAR IS BORN (remake with Gaga and Bradley Cooper-I want to see this!), AFSAR, BAYOU CAVIAR, BILL COORS: THE WILL TO LIVE, CHICAGO/STEP BROTHERS, CHASING THE BLUES, CRY ME A SAD RIVER, EXES BAGGAGE, HEAVY TRIP, HELLO MRS. MONEY, KNUCKLEBALL, LADY BELLADONNA’S, LIVING IN THE FUTURE’S PAST, LOVEYATRI, PRIVATE LIFE, PROJECT GUTENBERG, RIDE, SHINE, STUDIO 54, THE CHURCH, THE HAPPY PRINCE, VENOM (looks rather creepy), VIKING DESTINY, AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, THE METROPOLITAN OPERA: AIDA, and BULLITT 50th ANNIVERSARY SHOWING. Early returns are showing VENOM on the way to beating A STAR IS BORN, with an estimated $80 million opening weekend, which would be a record for October.

Technology & Space News:

Renowned stargazer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, says that President Trump’s “Space Force” is not a crazy idea at all. In other President Trump news, his administration has said that all self-driving cars will need to have steering wheels to allow for human intervention. Facebook is now looking to track your exact location via Instagram. The UK cybersecurity agency is backing Apple, Amazon and China hack denials.

Political News:

President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, remained under siege from the media and the Senate, which finally held a confirmation vote for him and approved the nomination. Ivanka and Jared ran the US Army 10-miler.

US News:

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, kicked off by the New York Times (then by the New Yorker) which published the first article that outed Harved Weinstein as a serial assaulter of women. What the movement has taught us is that there are many more victims than anyone thought, that no matter how long it’s been they and what they went through matter and should be heard, and many peoples’ lives were altered forever by these incidents. Ironically, the Senate is expected to vote on Friday whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault, as a new Supreme Court Justice. Two newlywed couples and young parents of two little girls among 20 wedding guests that were killed in an upstate New York limousine crash between two vehicles while traveling to watch their friends get married. 92 California billionaires appear on the new Forbes list of the richest Americans. 400 Americans share a staggering $2.9 trillion in wealth. I mentioned in the last Repo Commentary that, in a surprise move, famed F.A.O. Schwartz would be returning to NYC in Rockefeller Center location. Now, there is news that Toys ‘R’ Us may come back to California in a surprise move for the bankrupt company, as a bankruptcy auction there has just been cancelled. Now, news in the other direction, as Mattress Firm files bankruptcy and plans to close 700 stores. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there are 1.7 million children in the US with a parent in prison on any given day, out of a prison population of roughly 2.2 million. Officials have found immigration violations at Nevada brothels. A mystery object has washed ashore on a SC beach. There has been a rare death-row slaying at San Quentin Prison in California. The husband of woman accused of killing her child jumped to his death from his hotel. The US service member killed in Afghanistan has now been identified.

International News:

Breaking News: firefighters are tackling a huge blaze near an IKEA store in north London, England. According to Turkish police, a Washington Post writer who fiercely criticized the Saudi government “was tortured, murdered and cut into pieces inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul.” A missing Interpol chief was at the center of a Chinese anti-corruption probe. A television journalist’s murder is shocking Bulgaria. The Vatican is defending the Pope against ‘blasphemous’ cover-up claims about ongoing priests’ investigations into sexual assaults. A victims’ group in Poland has mapped 255 sex cases against clergy.

Florida:

The blue-green algae disaster on the East Coast of Florida and red tide disaster on the West Coast of Florida (stretching 135 miles along the southwest coast) are still on everyone’s minds and noses down here. Dead fish continue to pile up on Southwestern Florida beaches, as cleanup efforts for the red tide have intensified. But, a new development is shocking Floridians, as authorities closed beaches in Martin County and here in Palm Beach County, not for the blue-green algae, but for red tide. Red tide has now made its way to the East Coast of Florida, for the first time in 25 years. Authorities closed the beaches over “health and safety concerns”. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. For others, it tends to cause throat, eye, and nose irritation. In Florida’s Panhandle, in northwest Florida, crews of county jail inmates are cleaning up piles of dead fish killed by another red tide bloom near Panama City Beach.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the State of Florida, quite an honor! We just performed 3 gigs in the Jupiter/Palm Beach Garden area and I performed for my 40th high school reunion up in Andover, MA this past weekend, in full Elvis regalia. We have many gigs coming up in Palm Beach County and you can check those out on http://www.generationgapflorida.com.

If you are interested in seeing the more famous bands or solos in concert, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Phil Collins-Sunrise, October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami, October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood, October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale, December 15
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-9/20/18

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles. And i/we’ve got two conferences coming up!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn and the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Thursday’s Holidays or Events:

• National Gibberish Day
• National Pepperoni Pizza Day
• National Punch Day
• National String Cheese Day
• National Teach Ag Day
• Constitution Day in Nepal
• Independence Day of South Ossetia (not fully recognized)
• National Youth Day in Thailand
• Oil Workers’ Day in Azerbaijan
• Universal Children’s Day in Germany
• Yom Kippur began on 9/19

Some Famous People Born 9/20 in History:

• 1486-Arthur, Prince of Wales
• 1878-Upton Sinclair, American novelist
• 1917-Red Auerbach, NBA
• 1929-Anne Meara, American actress and playwright
• 1934-Sophia Loren, Italian actress
• 1935-Jim Taylor, NFL
• 1951-Guy Lafleur, NHL
• 1956-Gary Cole, American actor
• 1975-Asia Argento, Italian actress
• 1978-Hector Camacho Jr., Puerto Rican boxer
• 1978-Dante Hall, NFL
• 1990-Phillip Phillips, American singer-songwriter
• 1990-John Tavares, NHL

This Day in History (9/20):

• 1187-Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem.
• 1260-The Great Prussian Uprising among the old Prussians begins against the Teutonic Knights.
• 1378-Cardinal Robert of Geneva is elected as Pope Clement VII, beginning the Papal schism.
• 1498-the Nakai Earthquake generated a tsunami that washes away the building housing the statue of the Great Buddha at Kotoku-in in Japan. Since then, the Buddha has sat in the open air.
• 1519-Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlucar da Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition to circumnavigate the globe.
• 1697-the Treaty of Ryswick is signed by France, England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Dutch Republic, ending the Nine Years’ War.
• 1737-the completion of the Walking Purchase which forces cession of 1.2 million acres of Lenape-Delaware tribal land to the Pennsylvania Colony.
• 1792-French troops stop an allied invasion of France at the Battle of Valmy.
• 1854-Crimean War: British and French troops defeat the Russians at the Battle of Alma.
• 1863-American Civil War: the conclusion of the Battle of Chickamauga in northwestern Georgia, the bloodiest two-day battle of the conflict, and the only significant Confederate victory in the War’s western theater.
• 1881-US President Chester A. Arthur is sworn in, the morning after becoming President upon James A Garfield’s death.
• 1893-Charles Duryea and his brother road-test the first American-made gasoline-powered automobile.
• 1906-the Cunard Line’s RMA Mauretania is launched at Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
• 1909-the Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the South Africa Act of 1909, creating the Union of South Africa from the British colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal Colony.
• 1911-the White Star Line’s RMA Olympic collides with the British warship HMS Hawke.
• 1941-the Holocaust of Lithuania: 403 Jews were murdered by Einsatzkommando 3 and the local police of Nemencine.
• 1942-the Holocaust of Ukraine: in the course of two days, a German einsatzgruppen murders at least 3,000 Jews in Letychiv.
• 1946-the first Cannes Film Festival is held, having been delayed 7 years due to WWII.
• 1962-James Meredith, an African-American, is temporarily barred from entering the University of Mississippi.
• 1967-RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched at Clydebank, Scotland.
• 1971-having weakened after making landfall in Nicaragua the previous day, Hurricane Irene regains enough strength to be renamed Hurricane Olivia, making it the first known hurricane to cross from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean.
• 1973-Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match at the Houston Astrodome.
• 1973-singer Jim Croce, songwriter and musician Maury Muehleisen, and 4 others die when their light aircraft crashes on takeoff at Natchitoches Regional Airport in Louisiana.
• 1977-the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is admitted to the UN.
• 1982-football players begin a 57-day strike during the 1982 NFL football season.
• 1984-a suicide bomber in a car attacks the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 22 people.
• 1990-South Ossetia declares its independence from Georgia.
• 2000-the United Kingdom’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service building is attacked by individuals using a Russian-built RPG-22 anti-tank missile.
• 2001-in an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, US President George W. Bush declares a “War on Terror”.
• 2008-a dump truck full of explosives detonates in front of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing 54 people and injuring 266 others.
• 2017-Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, resulting in 2,975 deaths, $90 billion in damage, and a major humanitarian crisis that still has not been completely resolved. I read the other day that a warehouse full of bottled water was just discovered, the water never delivered to people in need.

Fun Fact of the Day:

In the late 1950’s, the US Air Force considered dropping an atomic bomb on the Moon to display US superiority to the Soviet Union and the rest of the world, as Project A119. A year later, they considered building a possible military base on the Moon (Project Horizon).

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I am a part of everything that I have read.”—Theodore Roosevelt

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 9/10 closed at $67.54/barrel. Today (9/20) however, oil is trading at $70.35/barrel, nearly $3 higher. Oil prices jumped on Saudi Arabia $80/barrel announcement. Trump is urging OPEC to drive down oil prices. Trump did hit Iran with oil sanctions, which are working so far. Despite the jump in oil, I was able to find gasoline at $2.66/gallon at my West Palm Beach gas station, but most stations have gasoline prices up about 5 cents from where they were last week. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $112.50, much higher from where it was on 9/11. The USD was at 1.1786 versus the Euro, weaker since 9/11. The USD is sharply down since 9/11 against the GBP, at $1.3250. The USD is much lower versus the CAD to $1.2905 since 9/11. Gold closed today at $1204.90/ounce, up from where it was 9/11. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Two weeks ago, it broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. If you thought you’d seen the lows, however, you were wrong. It is already down 65% since its peak in December, but now the stochastics point to potential further problems. It keeps having lower highs and the Directional Movement Index is suggesting that bullish buying pressure has ended and selling pressure has begun. It closed on 9/11 at $6,413.87. Today, it closed at $6,395.00. It’s barely treading water. Trade fears have subsided, so global stock markets are generally somewhat higher. The USD has dropped against most currencies. The GBP climbed to a 2-month high on UK retail sales unexpected jump in August because of warm weather for shoppers. The prior month was also revised higher. Sales in household goods was the leader, while clothing and food sagged. The EU summit in Salzburg kicked off with discussions about Brexit and there hasn’t been any breakthrough in negotiations, particularly about the Irish border issue. This summit is the first of three opportunities for meetings to negotiate a divorce. In Japan, PM Abe easily won the party leadership election. China has responded to US tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products by imposing retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion more in US goods. Both sets of tariffs will take effect this Monday.

Ottawa is seeking guarantees from the United States that it will not hit Canada with punitive tariffs on the country’s automotive exports under a new NAFTA deal, increasing friction in the trade talks. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose tariffs on Canadian vehicles and parts, worth about $80-billion a year, if the federal government does not reach an agreement with Washington on an overhaul of the continental trade pact. But the matter has become a sticking point in talks, said people briefed on the closed-door negotiations.The Globe and Mail

The United States has backed away from its contentious demands for lucrative procurement projects in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, The Canadian Press has learned. Mexico and Canada are both quietly taking credit for standing firm against the controversial U.S. position that would have effectively limited their respective countries’ ability to bid on valuable American government infrastructure projects. Multiple sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, cited the competing claims as one example of the animosity between Canada and Mexico that has arisen since Mexico reached its own NAFTA deal with the Trump administration last month. Business Financial Post

“EU Turns Up the Heat on Irish Question Ahead of Brexit Meeting: European leaders met in Salzburg, Austria, on Wednesday evening in an effort to nudge stalled Brexit talks closer to the finish line. The big stumbling block: what to do about the U.K.’s border with Ireland. Under pressure at home, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told her European counterparts that her government had altered its offer for Britain’s future relationship with the bloc and it was time for them “to respond in kind.” Wall Street Journal

“China Plans Broad Import Tax Cut as Soon as October: China is planning to cut the average tariff rates on imports from the majority of its trading partners as soon as next month, two people familiar with the matter said, in a move that will lower costs for consumers as a trade war with the U.S. deepens.” Bloomberg

“In Brexit Talks, Some See Hope in a Minimal ‘Blind’ Deal: With about six months to go until Britain quits the European Union, time is short and much is unresolved. But a common goal now binds British Prime Minister Theresa May and her continental counterparts: getting a deal — perhaps any deal — to push withdrawal over the line. European leaders are weary of the endless wrangling within Mrs. May’s fractious Conservative Party over Britain’s departure, known as Brexit, and fear that a political crisis could propel the country into a chaotic and economically damaging split. That has prompted a new mood of compromise that could help Mrs. May and the European Union tiptoe toward the kind of outcome for which the bloc is famous: a political fudge that mainly kicks the can down the road.” New York Times

Global Financial News:

The Senate has just approved a $854 billion spending bill. Three men have been indicted in an alleged $364 million Ponzi scheme that preyed on more than 400 victims and was based in Maryland. The scheme funded the lavish lifestyles of the 3 men, featuring Ferraris, Lamborghinis, a Rolls Royce, 9 pricey homes, and 7- and 9- carat diamond rings, and more, according to authorities. The men lured investors to buy consumer debt portfolios “through an elaborate web of lies” according to the US Attorney. These portfolios included alleged credit-card debts, car loans, and student loans, which those men promised to make money on in collecting payments or bundling them and selling them. Industry groups are saying that an FSB evaluation of banks’ capital rules enacted in response to the Financial Crisis doesn’t adequately address obstacles they created for the central clearing of derivatives. The ability to clear derivatives for clients has been greatly diminished by the way Basel III treats clearing activity. Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the largest music-streaming service in China, has reduced is fundraising IPO in the US to about $2 billion from $4 billion. It will still be among the largest IPOs from a Chinese company in New York this year. SIFMA and other industry bodies have expressed concern about the MSRB’s proposed amendments to rules on data related to offerings of municipal securities that would require information to be manually submitted by underwriters. I’m going to already have to amend my Series 50 education. SEC member Robert Jackson Jr. urges the SEC to take firmer action on anti-competitive practices at stock exchanges, saying they harm investor interests, by increasing fees and profit. The SEC has withdrawn 2 no-action letters that authorized investment advisors’ reliance on proxy-voting services if the advisors had adopted policies to preserve independence. Now they intend to review those services. A new report released by the BIS explores changes in the structure of the high-speed trading electronic markets and implications for central banks.

U.S. companies repatriated $169.5 billion in foreign profits in the second quarter—more than in most recent periods, but underscoring a cautious approach to shifting huge sums across borders. The figure marks a decline from a revised $294.9 billion in the first quarter, the three months immediately after Congress passed sweeping tax legislation… The transfers represent a combination of newly earned foreign profits, which have never been subject to U.S. tax, and profits long accumulated by foreign subsidiaries… Policy makers backing the December tax overhaul predicted it would lead companies to bring to the U.S. much of the estimated $2.7 trillion they had stockpiled offshore at least in part to avoid U.S. taxes. In turn, they argued, companies would invest much of the money in U.S. operations and jobs.WSJ

US Market News:

The Dow Jones has waffled lower since my 8/29 Repo Commentary, closing 9/11 down 59.47 points to 25,857.07. It is currently at 26,656.77. S&P 500, however, keeps going higher, now trading at 2,930.66. Nasdaq has also been regaining ground since it set 8,030.04 on 8/28. It is currently 8,027.70. US Treasury yields have gotten much worse since I wrote last on 9/11 (yields have gone dramatically higher), closing yesterday on 2years at 2.81% (up 8bp), 3years at 2.89% (up 11bp), 5years at 2.96 (up 13bp), 7years at 3.04% (up 15bp), 10years at 3.08% (up 14bp), and 30years at 3.23% (up 14bp). Treasury yields opened up higher today by 1bp across the board. You will notice that yesterday, the 10 year yield did top the magic 3% yield, a four-month high at 3.08%.

Housing News:

Today, we have US Existing Home Sales for July and they are expected to have cratered to their lowest level in 2 ½ years. The latest US housing data two weeks ago showed the market wobbling and began investors worrying. In talking to my real estate friends down here in Florida, it’s about not having enough supply to meet demand, particularly on the commercial real estate side. However, it’s hard to believe that when you see all the new condo skyscrapers being built and new gated communities being built in Florida. But, even the office of Employment in Florida has issued an alert that they need more builders, carpenters, etc. to build all of this growth for the demand of a booming increase in population. The real estate brokers say that it is still a sellers’ market, that they hold the upper hand in negotiations in Florida, the opposite of what I hear is happening in the metropolitan NYC area, especially in the luxury real estate market. CBS put out a warning article today to real estate investors, saying that home prices in the US have never been higher, since January’s housing values eclipsed the 2006 pre-Crisis peak and since have only pushed higher. CBS points to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates higher which will have a negative impact on home affordability, a slowdown in new home construction and sales of existing homes, and weakening demographics. Millennials, hampered by rising student loan debt and cooling wages, have very low homeownership rates. Their rate is about 8% below the homeownership rates of Gen X and Baby Boomers before them at the same age. CBS is not the only one raising a flag, as I reported last week that CNBC had had a similar article, and even Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group is warning of a “mass exodus” on the horizon as the “homeownership demand from younger generations is insufficient to fill the void left by multitudes of departing older owners.” There always seems to be 2 residential real estate markets when you talk about real estate, particularly in NYC. There’s the buy/sell real estate market and the rental real estate market. It turns out that year-over-year, rents in Queens saw an 8.3% increase in July, far outpacing Manhattan (1.7%) and the national average (2.8%). However, NYC buy/sell real estate currently favors the buyer’s, particularly at the high-end. Bloomberg has reported that sellers are reluctantly finally coming around. However, it doesn’t appear that the new tax bill has had much impact yet, according to the NY Times. An interesting aside to the Housing market in the US is that, now that car companies, like Ford are focusing only on making Mustangs, SUVs, and pickup trucks, the average new home has to have larger garages than existing homes. That actually will create a supply/demand dynamic between the existing homes and new homes that has not been there before. Not only are the vehicles wider and longer, but they are also taller. So, the whole structure of some new homes has had to change. One professor at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena said, “the only thing that has grown as fast as American vehicles are American waistlines.”

Repo News:  

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. There has been a lot of volatility in repo rates lately, despite the US Treasury yield curve’s one-way direction (much higher in rates). Part of it is likely the pricing or not pricing of FOMC rate hikes. Part of it is likely the huge supply of US Treasuries which has finally abated. But, still, the intraday volatility is high. You could get a repo quote at 8am and then find another quote in the afternoon 15-20bp different. GSE cash started hitting the market this week and brought funding rates down. It could get down to mid-1.90s before the cash leaves on 9/24. Everyone thinks there will be a Fed tightening of 25bp on 9/26 FOMC, so funding rates will lean higher anyway, with the full impact the day after on 9/27 (since the meeting is at 2:00pm in the afternoon). It will be interesting to hear what they say in the Statement, but also interesting to see what they do to the IOER. At the last tightening in June, they only raised the IOER to 1.95%, up 20bp, not 25bp. So, the question is: will they raise the IOER only 20bp again, or only 15bp, since the 20bp move last time didn’t have the desired effect of lowering the Fed Funds rate? Reportedly, some 100,000 Fed Funds futures contracts have been traded to bet on that question. The dynamic between IOER (where banks and credit unions can invest their cash with the Fed), Repo rates (where all could invest their cash securitized), and Fed Funds (where certain banks and GSEs could invest their cash unsecured) is more important than it every was before. In Specials, the 2year note is trading around 1.50% and looks like its going to be quite active.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3 times in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

We are obviously in the Fed’s self-imposed blackout period now of 7 days or less before the 9/26 FOMC meeting.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

The latest earthquakes:

9/16/18 6.5, 570km South of the Fiji Islands

9/12/18 4.3, 7km NE of Sapatgram, India

9/10/18 6.3, 202km WNW of Ile Hunter, New Caledonia

9/10/18 6.9, 61km SW of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

9/9/18 6.5, 65km NW of Kirakira, Solomon Islands

9/8/18 5.6, 18km WSW of Lianzhu, China

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene coming
Isaac coming
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. Hurricane Florence, although down from a Category 4 to a Category 1 when it finally made landfall in North Carolina, wreaked devastation throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and spawned awful tornadoes that whipped through Virginia, particularly Richmond area. The storm has already been blamed for the deaths of at least 35 people. Florence’s main problem was the rain, not the wind, which came down relentlessly for a long time from a slow storm, over 2 feet in many areas, combined with a storm surge from the ocean of up to 15 feet. This overflowed all major rivers to historic levels and cut off Wilmington, NC, in particular. Many homes were ruined with flooding that had not seen any flooding during Hurricane Matthew last year. The Cape Fear river by Fayettville, NC finally crested Tuesday night at 60 feet higher. Insurance companies estimate that just six inches of water in a home causes on average $52,000 in damage and over 1 foot of water causes in excess of $100,000 in damage. Many of the folks inland, now suffering from the storm surge coming up the rivers and the rivers swelling with rain water, were never in flood zones, so never spent the $700/year to get flood insurance. Damage has already been estimated to be about $50 billion. Thousands of roads in North Carolina remain closed and impassable. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power and generators are running out of gas and gas is running low. Florence was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the Carolinas and 9th-wettest tropical cyclone to hit the contiguous United States. The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland and the mayor of Washington, DC declared a state of emergency. The states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia wound up issuing mandatory evacuations for some of their coastal communities.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Typhoon Jebi affected Taiwan and Japan, killing at least 17 people and causing extensive damage in the Kansai region of Japan. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Storm Paul is slightly stronger at 45mph. Typhoon Mangkhut impacted the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, resulting in more than 70 deaths.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, the heat is up again into the low to mid-90s, coupled with high humidity of 60-80%, has given us heat indices for the last week or so of 100-105 degrees. Too hot to do much outdoor activities like golf or tennis. Similar weather is hitting the Plains states, like Missouri, where heat indices will be in the 100-105 degree range. Chicago is about to get temperatures in the 90s again and that is expected to sweep to the Northeast. Meanwhile, upper Northwest states to Minnesota are experience temperatures in the 60s and rain.

A rare ‘firenado’, combination of tornado and wildfire, is raging in British Columbia.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is almost over, with around 20-23 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have crossed into franchise historical territory, putting up 103 wins, the most any Red Sox team had put up in 75 years, with still 11 more games to play. Their magic number to clinch the AL East is down to 2 and they are about to face the Yankees a bunch of times, so one win for the Red Sox will clinch. They have already clinched a playoff spot. They lost Tuesday night to the Yankees in a late rally, delaying the Red Sox champagne celebration. Red Sox star Mookie Betts had to leave the previous game against the Mets with a side injury but appears okay now. Red Sox ace David Price says he doesn’t plan to opt out of his Red Sox contract. The Red Sox activated ace Chris Sale from DL. The Yankees have called up top prospect Justus Sheffield. New Yankee acquisition, Andrew McCutchen reached base 5 times in a win over the Blue Jays this weekend. The Yankees have also activated Aaron Judge from the DL and he promptly hit a HR in his first at-bat. Hal Steinbrenner has expressed support for Yankees’ rookie manager Aaron Boone. The Orioles just lost their 107th game of the season, tying a team record. They are currently 60 games behind the Red Sox. The problem is that there is still 2weeks left in the season, so the Orioles are likely to break their record. In the AL Central, the Indians have already clinched the division, becoming the first team to do so in 2018, with a rousing 15-0 win over the Tigers. New acquisition, Josh Donaldson, went hitless in his debut from DL. In the AL West, the Astros’ magic number is 9 to eliminate the A’s and 4 to eliminate the Mariners. A’s ace Trevor Cahill is dealing with back issues. A’s ace Sean Manaea is now out for the season with a shoulder injury. The AL Wild Cards have been locked up and are the Yankees and A’s (if they don’t win their respective divisions). Which one will play the one game at home is still being decided, as they are now only 1 game apart. In the NL East, the Braves have a magic number of 8 to eliminate the Phillies (who have collapsed) and 6 to eliminate the Nationals. The Braves did not help themselves on Saturday by walking 13 batters in 8 innings in a loss to the Nationals. That was the most walks Atlanta had given up in a game since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. Nats’ Spencer Kieboom lost a tooth and hit his first career HR. In the NL Central, the Cubs have a magic number of 11 to eliminate the Brewers (who gained a lot of ground this weekend on the Cubs), 8 to eliminate the Cardinals, and 2 to eliminate the Pirates. The Cubs’ closer Pedro Strop is reportedly done for the regular season, with a hamstring injury. Cubs’ ace Yu Darvish had a procedure on his elbow and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Cubs’ ace Jon Lester left game against Brewers with an injury. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco will miss start of 2019 season after shoulder surgery. In the NL West, the Dodgers and Rockies are tied and they both have a magic number of 4 to eliminate the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks’ playoff hopes have faded with a poor 4-11 road trip. The NL Wild Card spots have not been decided yet and could come down to whoever doesn’t win the NL West and/or the Cardinals and Nationals.

Mets’ 3B star, David Wright, is retiring. When the Mets played in Boston over the weekend, Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia presented one of the Fenway scoreboard’s No.5 to Wright as a parting gift. Twins’ Joe Mauer is seriously considering retirement.

Golf:

Champion Iowa State University golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena was found stabbed to death on a golf course and a suspect has been charged with her murder. Her body was found in a pond at Coldwater Links golf course near the campus. Barquin Arozamena, a native of Spain, was recently named Iowa State’s female athlete of the year. It appears to have been a random rape and brutal murder by a homeless 22-year-old. The top 30 players have made it to East Lake in Georgia for the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup title (plus $10 million check). Tiger is among the 30, at No.20. In the LPGA, the Evian Championship was won by 40-year-old Angela Stanford in a tournament that finally measured up to its new ‘major’ status. The PGA of America announced that 8 events will be hosted at Congressional Golf Club, including the 2031 PGA Championship and 2036 Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour Champions are playing in South Dakota for the first time, as Andy North and Jack Nicklaus host an event at Sanford International.

Fighting:

Boxing

Manny Pacquiao is suing Top Rank Boxing over unpaid fees for Matthysse fight. This weekend, welterweight Amir Khan gave a dominant performance in his unanimous decision over Samuel Vargas in Birmingham, England and then called out Manny Pacquiao, although fans really want to see him take on fellow Englishman Kell Brook.

9/15 after the huge buildup for the mega middleweight rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas last time, and a six-month suspension of Alvarez, they finally fought Saturday night in Las Vegas. Since like me, you probably didn’t pay the $85 for PPV for the fight, the result was that it went the distance of 12 rounds and was scored a majority decision for Alvarez, in another very close fight. Of the 18 media outlets who scored the bout, 10 ruled in favor of Golovkin, 7 scored it a draw, and only 1 scored the bout for the winner, Alvarez. Alvarez won a purse of $5 million for the fight, plus about $40 million from PPV, and Golovkin won a purse of $4 million for the fight, plus about $30 million from PPV. Alvarez also won the WBA (super), WBC, IBO, and The Ring Magazine middleweight belts. In the other bouts that night, Jaime Munguia defeated Brandon Cook with a TKO in round 3 for the WBO Jr. Middleweight title, David Lemieux defeated Gary O’Sullivan by KO in round 1 in middleweights, and Roman Gonzalez defeated Moises Fuentes by KO in round 5 of super flyweight bout.

9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ) 21-0/20 KOs will face former heavyweight champion, Alexander Povetkin, in London at Wembley Stadium. One knock against Joshua is that he has fought all of his fights in his native England. However, the last 3 have been huge fights (Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker) and he has sold in excess of 250,000 tickets at Wembley and Principality Stadiums. So, maybe he doesn’t have to leave a place where he sells out stadiums and makes tens of millions of dollars, and all his challengers have to come to him? His countryman Lennox Lewis and the two Klitschko brothers learned that if they were going to become recognized as one of the all time greats, they had to compete in the United States too.

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge set a world record at the Berlin Marathon.

At the Singapore Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton managed to score a perfect 25 points. He won his 7th Grand Prix race of the season in his Mercedes, after his shocking win at the Italian Grand Prix the week before. His victory now moves him 40 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ standings, with just 6 Grand Prix races remaining this year.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. He also made news by estimating for an interview that he had at least 20 concussions during his racing career. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500. NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.
9/1 Bojangles’ Southern 500 in Darlington was won by Brad Keselowski.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.
9/16 South Point 400 in Las Vegas was won by Brad Keselowski, his 3rd win in a row, setting him up well for the upcoming Playoffs.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now most of the teams have played for 3 weeks. Ohio State DE Nick Bosa is out against Tulane. Coach Urban Meyer will be returning to the field after this week’s game, from his 4-game suspension. LSU had a big win over Auburn behind QB Joe Burrow, 22-21. Alabama and Georgia continued to roll. Although, Georgia was playing Middle Tennessee State and won 49-7, it was convincing enough win to move them ahead of Clemson at No.2 in the polls. Alabama beat Ole Miss 62-7. Oklahoma State also continued to roll, routing Boise State, 44-21. No.4 Ohio State had a key win against No.15 TCU, 40-28. Suspended LSU WR Drake Davis has been arrested again on new assault charges. Akron topped Northwestern for first win over a Big Ten team since 1894! FSU has begun with a 1-2 start, losing this time to Syracuse 30-7. UCLA QB’s ‘frustrated dad’ blasted coach Chip Kelly. Oklahoma survived a scare against Iowa State 37-27. Maryland and Rutgers continued to find a rough go as newest Big Ten members, losing 35-14 to Temple and 55-14 to Kansas, respectively. Penn State ran up the score on Kent State, 63-10. Nebraska lost again, this time to Troy 24-19. Notre Dame just nipped Vanderbilt 22-17. Wisconsin was stunned by BYU 24-21. Houston and Texas Tech got into an exciting shootout, finally won by Texas Tech 63-49. Purdue lost a tough battle with Missouri 40-37.

As of 9/15, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (3-0)
2. Georgia (3-0) up from No.3
3. Clemson (3-0) down from No.2
4. Ohio State (3-0)
5. Oklahoma (3-0)
6. LSU (3-0) up from No.12
7. Stanford (3-0) up from No.9
8. Notre Dame (3-0)
9. Auburn (2-1) down from No.7
10. Washington (2-1)
11. Penn State (3-0)
12. West Virginia (2-0) up from No.14
13. Virginia Tech (2-0)
14. Mississippi State (3-0) up from No.16
15. Oklahoma State (3-0) up from No.24
16. UCF (2-0) up from No.18
17. TCU (2-1) down from No.15
18. Wisconsin (2-1) down from No.6
19. Michigan (2-1)
20. Oregon (3-0)
21. Miami (2-1)
22. Texas A&M (2-1) joined poll
23. Boston College (3-0) joined poll
24. Michigan State (1-1) up from No.25
25. BYU (2-1) joined poll

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is under way. The biggest story so far, toppling the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell sitting out story, is the play of Chiefs’ rookie QB Patrick Mahomes, who broke an NFL record (during Super Bowl era) with 10 TD passes in first two games of season (and his career). The win over the Steelers though was an absolute shootout, 42-37, with 778 yards combined passing and 9 TD passes between the two QBs. The second biggest story is having a second Tie game in 2 weeks, causing many to question the NFL’s overtime rules. The Vikings and Packers played to a thrilling draw. Ten of Sunday’s games finished as one-possession games, which made them fun to watch on Red Zone. The third biggest story was the Jaguars exorcising last year’s playoff demons by stunning my Patriots in Week 2. I guess the fourth biggest story is the saddest, as the Browns seemed to go into uncharted territory to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the hapless Saints and crush their Dog Pound faithful. The Browns kicker missed 2 extra points and 2 tying field goal attempts, before they lost in the final seconds, 21-18, with the Saints scoring 18 points in Q4. Falcons’ journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick silenced his critics with a 400-yard passing game and 31-24 victory over the Panthers. There was a late helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers QB Cam Newton, which should have come with an ejection. Fitzpatrick showed up at the press meeting after the game dressed like Conor McGregor. He was just intercepted by Dolphins rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick who filed the “FitzMagic” trademark. Jaguars Cam Robinson is out for season with torn ACL. The Patriots are reportedly made a deal for WR Josh Gordon, who was just released by the Browns. The Patriots are taking some risk, as the highly-touted WR was suspended or injured the better part of the last 3 seasons. But, it is clear that the Patriots need some more targets for Tom Brady and the anemic offense. In the CFL, QB Johnny Manziel got his starting job back with the Alouettes. The Vikings decided to cut kicker Dan Carlson, who missed 3 field goals that could have won them the 29-29 tie game with Packers. They replaced him with former Cowboys’ kicker Dan Bailey. Before a groin injury in 2017 caused him to have his worst season ever, Bailey was one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, making all of his extra points and 88.15% of his career field goals. According to ESPN, Bailey had turned down 4 other offers since the start of the season before signing with the Vikings. The Browns naturally cut their kicker, Zane Gonzalez, too after his 4 misses during their loss to the Saints and signed former Dolphins’ kicker Greg Joseph. Unfortunately, Browns fans roasted the wrong Zane Gonzalez on Twitter. Here was another bizarre incident on Sunday, as Bills’ superstar CB Vontae Davis quit the team and retired in midgame against the Chargers in their 31-20 loss. He simply told the coach “I’m done.” Davis then changed into his street clothes at halftime and left the stadium. His 10-year career is now over, after coming to the Bills as a free agent this season, and his Bills’ teammates said it was a “disgrace.” The Eagles announced that QB Carson Wentz has been medically cleared to play again and that he will start in Week 3, replacing Super Bowl MVP backup QB Nick Foles. That seems unfair to me. I guess it’s because the Eagles were stunned by the Bucs 27-21 with a backup QB of their own for Jameis Winston. Eagles’ WR Mike Wallace may miss rest of the season with an ankle injury. We might as well go back to that old top story of Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell still sitting out, because the Steelers are now 0-2 without him, despite QB Big Ben putting up some ridiculous passing numbers. Steelers’ WR Antonio Brown is not helping by tweeting trade threat to fans in response to criticism from the media. Bengals beat the Ravens 34-23. The Dolphins upset the Jets 20-12. I mentioned that the Steelers are 0-2, and the Browns, Cardinals, and Saints are dreadful, but how about the Texans losing to the lowly Titans 20-17, and because of an error on the last play by Texan QB who ran out of time? 49ers’ QB Jimmy Garropolo was good enough to beat the Lions 30-27, but it took a controversial holding penalty on one of his interceptions to seal the deal. The Colts stunned the Redskins, 21-9, as QB Andrew Luck continues to recover his old self. The Rams crushed the Cardinals 34-0. The Broncos hit a last second field goal to beat the Raiders by one point 20-19. The Cowboys beat their nemesis Giants 20-13 at home. What a game Monday night! That Khalil Mack of the Bears is amazing, a one-man wrecking crew! He was involved in pretty much every rushed Seattle pass, sack (six), and strip fumble of the QB the entire game. I know that the Bears gave up a lot to get him, two first-round draft choices, and had to pay him a king’s ransom (6 years/$141 million), but he is worth it. The Bears beat the Seahawks 24-17, although it should have been a much higher score if it weren’t for their errant-throwing sidearm QB Trebisky, The offense of the Bears now has to get as good as the defense. Nearly two dozen Pro Football Hall of Famers are threatening a boycott at the HOF induction ceremony, if they don’t get a new revenue share in an annual salary and health insurance. It is hard not to see their point, as they age and have injuries associated with their playing days, including a rash of concussion related ailments, and the NFL had $14 billion in revenue in 2017. It also probably doesn’t help that Commissioner Goodell, to whom they wrote the letter, is getting an annual salary of $40 million and the League chose to construct a $1 billion HOF Village in Canton, OH. Le’Veon Bell was spotted in Miami on a jet ski.

Soccer:

There is much speculation about Rablot and which team he will join on a Bosman transfer (Liverpool, Juventus, or Barcelona). Zaha’s Crystal Palace teammate says he gets “unfair” treatments from Premier League refs. Did you know that Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku has scored two international hat-tricks, but only one is recognized by FIFA?

NHL:

The NHL training camps started last week. The first preseason games were on 9/15. The puck drops on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. The Jets signed holdout Josh Morrissey to a 2-year deal. The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse. The Senators finally, after six months of wrangling, traded their superstar Erik Karlsson to the Sharks. The Senators received 4 players and 3 draft picks, for their rebuilding. Billionaire Flames co-owner Clay Riddell has died at age 81. Red Wings GM said Henrik Zetterberg’s career is over because of back injury. The Senators will be without center Jean-Gabriel Pageaux for six months. Hurricanes’ Victor Rask has surgery on his fingers after kitchen accident. The Stars signed Tyler Seguin to an 8-year extension worth $9.85 million per year.

NBA:

The Clippers want a first-round pick from the Suns for Patrick Beverley. The Rockets’ defensive wizard, Jeff Bzdelik, has retired. Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler is the target of trade rumors. Dwyane Wade announced that he is returning to Heat. The Knicks are reportedly all-in on Celtics’ Kyrie Irving next summer when he becomes a free agent. Stephen Curry declared for Tottenham, honored by team at Wembley. A prosecutor is reviewing allegation against Rockets’ star James Harden. Spurs wanted Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Kawhi Leonard trade. LeBron James is now all-Hollywood, as he debuts in a new NBC drama. Knicks are reportedly looking to trade Joakim Noah. Celtics’ Gordon Hayward said his ankle is “basically 100%”. Celtics’ Jabari Bird appeared in court last Thursday for his arraignment after he was arrested on assault charges. The prosecutor alleges that Bird kept his girlfriend captive in his apartment for 4 hours while he assaulted her, accusing him of kicking her in the stomach and strangling her. Former Raptros and Knicks GM, Glen Grunwald, has been named Canada Basketball President/CEO. Russell Westbrook had a knee procedure and will be out for a month. Tony Parker signed a 2-year/$10 million deal with the Hornets this offseason, a shocking move for the 17-year Spurs’ veteran. Suns’ star Devin Booker will be out six weeks after having hand surgery. Cavs’ Rodney Hood accepted his qualifying offer. Luol Deng agreed to a one-year deal with Timberwolves. Michael Jordan and his Hornets launched Hurricane Florence relief efforts. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million to women’s causes and domestic violence awareness, following the NBA’s investigation into the franchise’s sexual harassment allegations.

In the 2018 WNBA Finals, the No.1 Seattle Storm took on the No.3 Washington Mystics, and won in a sweep. The Storm were led by their veteran Sue Bird, who could have left after their disappointing 2015 season, but stayed in Seattle, and their new WNBA MVP, Breann Stewart. Sue Bird said the team isn’t interested in visiting the White House and meeting the President.

Travel News:

One year after a Ryanair plane lost a wheel mid-flight, another aircraft oddly has a similar incident. Boeing’s gigantic 777X is getting closer to takeoff. I read on LinkedIn that every 5 weeks, China launches an electric bus FLEET, not just one bus, but a FLEET the size of London’s entire bus fleet! That’s incredible and I understand they now have 100,000 electric buses they’ve produced. Given how bad the pollution has been in some of the Chinese cities, this would be hugely beneficial for their air quality. Disney is ending one of its most iconic fireworks shows, the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the nightly spectacle that has lit up Orlando’s Epcot Center’s World Showcase Lagoon for 18 years. The last show will be the end of next summer 2019. But fear not, a new show will debut as this one ends. Also debuting at the park in 2019 will be Mickey Mouse’s first ride and the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve been going on and on about the new 79-mph (current limit in South Florida) high-speed commuter train service, BrightLine, here in Florida that can take you from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale in 30 minutes and to Miami in 1 hour 6 minutes, which has just begun finishing the rails for the next phase from West Palm Beach north to Cocoa Beach. It’s amazing! For $20, you ride in perfect luxury, arrive in less than half the time it would take you by car, and you get a drink and snacks. The final part of phase 2, will be to connect Cocoa Beach west to Orlando and then Tampa. Anyway, the reason I brought this all up again is because now Brightline will be doing the same high-speed service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles! So, that boring desert drive of about 5 ½ hours could now be a luxurious train ride of less than 3 hours! On Tuesday, Florida’s BrightLine said it had acquired XpressWest, a high-speed passenger rail project with rights to develop a federally approved corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas. The trip is only 300 miles, so it is a typical target of BrightLine; one that is too far to drive but too close to fly. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and initial service is planned for 2022. The next time you are stranded at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, you can go to the next-level airport lounge, which Virgin Holidays has built on the beach, called Departure Beach. For those interested in mazes, the largest permanent maze (largest pathway network in a hedge maze) in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is China’s sprawling Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze, which is located in the city of Yancheng and has a total size of 383,160.12 square feet. Its longest path is 5.87 miles long. It incorporates many shapes, but the main area is shaped like an elk walking through a forest:

Health News:

Coca-Cola is now following the tobacco companies at eyeing the cannabis oil market. In unrelated news, a study shows 1 in 3 high school E-cig users is now vaping marijuana. Scientists have now found 500 more genes that influence blood pressure. A new study shows that electric stimulation to airway nerves may help COPD patients. Another study suggests that the use of certain psychedelic drugs may help treat depression and PTSD. A new injected drug may be the new weapon against gout. The FDA has approved a second migraine prevention drug. A second contaminant has been found in Valsartan drugs. The salmonella-tainted Honey Smacks cereal has sickened 130 people. Nasal spray recall has expanded to hundreds of products, including nasal sprays and baby oral gels at CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and other stores, because of contamination. Manufacturer, Product Quest Manufacturing, found microbial contamination in its CVS Health 12 Hour Sinus Relief Nasal Mist. The recall applies to all products made in its Florida plant. Accord Healthcare has issued a recall for a blood pressure medication because the bottle that were shipped actually contain a heart failure drug. The recall is for one lot of 12.5-milligram hydrochlorothiazide tablets in 100-count bottles, which actually contain 100 spironolactone tablets. In water utilities around Georgia, the system for testing lead in water is not working as it should, leaving people uninformed and unprotected. Scientists now believe seizure cycles may follow circadian rhythms. An analysis of the nutrient content of available UK supermarket products shows that the sugar content of most types of yogurt is way above the recommended threshold. New research shows that children who have access to green spaces close to their homes have fewer respiratory problems, such as asthma and wheezing, in adulthood. Patients who receive care in a for-profit hospital are more likely to be readmitted than those who receive care in nonprofit or public hospitals, according to a new study. Researchers are addressing the ethical debate in using transcranial electrical brain stimulation to foster creativity. New research shows that digital content platforms can increase traffic to their websites from social media and drastically increase ad profits by at least 8% by simply aligning their posting schedules with peoples’ sleep-wake cycle. New research shows that the first bacteria introduced into the gut may have a lasting impact on the ability to fight chronic diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 50% of resident physicians in the US are now reporting burnout, with the highest rates concentrated in certain specialties. Researchers have found a new common thread, a 3D genome folding pattern, linking nearly all of the trinucleotide repeat expansion diseases, which include ALS, Huntington’s Disease, and Fragile X Syndrome. New research shows that bosses struggle, maybe more than the rest of us, to keep up with email demands from their inboxes, as the email traffic prevents them from being effective leaders. Researchers have successfully used a Zika virus vaccine to target and kill human glioblastoma brain cancer stem cells in mice. Researchers are zeroing in on drugs with certain compounds that could prevent malaria parasites from being able to infect mosquitoes, which could eradicate the disease in humans.

Animal News:

A 26-year-old man died after a shark attack Saturday off Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. He was boogie boarding with a friend, when he was bitten by what is believed to have been a great white shark near Newcomb Hollow Beach. Several beachgoers attempted to rescue the man, but he died at a nearby hospital. It is the first fatal shark attack in US waters in more than 80 years. A month ago, a New York man was bitten by a great white shark in nearby Truro, MA. In other great white shark news, the White Shark Café, a deserted area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is a gathering spot for droves of great white sharks and scientists are trying to figure out why. Frozen for more than 50,000 years, an amazingly preserved wolf pup mummy, complete with tail and paws, has been discovered in a Yukon Gold Mine. A juvenile killer whale, named Scarlet, last photographed on 9/7 near San Juan Island, Washington, is apparently ill and starving and NOAA officials are considering taking desperate measures to rescue her, if she is still alive. Search teams from NOAA and the US Coast Guard are searching for her from the air and sea. If she is found, they plan to capture her for rehabilitation in captivity until she is healthy enough to return to the wild. This pod of orca where she came from, the J-Pod, has become quite famous in their area, with people following the developments of Scarlet (J50) and the other members of the pod of endangered southern resident killer whales. J35, or Tahlequah, is a female whose calf died a half-hour after it was born on 7/24, and biologists watched the grieving mother carry her dead calf around for hundreds of miles for more than two weeks. Scarlet is one of the few reproductive-age females in the pod and her death would be a tremendous blow to this struggling group of killer whales. The subpopulation of southern resident killer whales has dropped from 98 individuals in 1995 to just 75 now, according to NOAA. On Monday, a dolphin superpod chased billions of baitfish in Monterey Bay, off California, thrilling onlookers. A pod of wild dolphins which live in Australia can literally moonwalk thanks to one individual who learned the trick after a brief captivity and taught the others. Maggie, a 30-year-old Australian kelpie, has died in her sleep, and may be the oldest dog ever. Thousands of bees swarmed a Texas WalMart. This is unrelated to recent story about a man in Wallis, TX who was hospitalized for 3 days after he was stung by about 600 Africanized bees, while mowing his lawn. He survived, despite being stung inside his mouth and throat. Earlier this year, an 81-year-old man in Liberty County, TX survived an attack by hundreds of bees, leaving him with more than 135 stings on his head alone. I remember reading when I was a kid that Africanized bees were going to take over North America. But, then again, I also remember being worried that the biggest danger to kids was quicksand, and I never found any. Mosquitoes have begun doing something very unusual: they are eating plastic. That’s a huge problem, because the plastic can remain in the insect’s body into adulthood and then the microplastic contaminant can be transferred to whatever may eat the mosquito, like birds, spiders, and bats. A recent study has found that even one piece of plastic can kill a sea turtle, so this could wreak havoc on animals higher in the food chain than the mosquito.

Entertainment News:

Singer Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez moved into his $15.3 million 4,000-square foot penthouse in NYC, the tallest apartment building, at 432 Park Avenue. J.Lo put her 26th Street penthouse on the market for $27 million. The actual 70th Primetime Emmy Award show was Monday night, which followed last week’s technical Emmy’s when John Legend, Tim Rice, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber became just the 13th, 14th, and 15th people to achieve EGOT status (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). It was unusual that it was on a Monday night, not a Sunday night. That also didn’t help the ratings, going up against Monday Night Football, as they plummeted to just 10.2 million viewers. And, yes, MNF did beat the Emmys in the ratings for Monday night. It’s not to be unexpected, as the Academy Awards and the Grammys ratings of late have dropped 20%, but this was a steeper tumble. The hosts were the two news guys from Saturday Night Live. There self-aware wisecrack about “the hundreds watching at home” was prophetic. I watched a little bit, but it was boring and the Bears’ defense, especially Khalil Mack, was much more exciting. The big winner was Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which won 4 Emmys. The ‘Fonz’, Henry Winkler, finally got an Emmy, for Barry’s. The most important moment was when a director accepted an award on stage and turned it into a wedding proposal on-stage to his girlfriend and presented her his family’s wedding ring. Julie Chen has decided to leave the show The Talk permanently, although an original on the show 8 years ago, as her husband Les Moonves of CBS was forced out as Chairman amid sexual misconduct allegations 9 days ago. She continues to support her husband. She also is stepping down as host of Big Brother. Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, best friends for 49 years, continue to spawn a debate on their sexual orientation. The debate was fueled by a magazine cover that depicted them watching the news when same-sex marriages was approved years back and by the writer for the two puppets for the last 15 years who says he always envisioned them as a same-sex couple. Disney, which owns the Jim Henson Muppets, denies that they are a same-sex couple and maintains they are just best friends and that puppets don’t have a sexual orientation. Today, the Sesame Street writer backtracked on his claim that Bert and Ernie are gay. This seems to be a really silly debate; they are puppets! Princess Eugenie is having a royal wedding, but you probably won’t get to see it on TV. In other Royal news, the former butler revealed that Princess Diana spent her Saturday nights eating McDonald’s with sons William and Harry. Million Dollar Listing New York star Ryan Serhant has written a book on finding success titled “Sell it Like Serhant” which is also the title of his other reality TV show. The Weekend and Daft Punk have been sued by a songwriter for reportedly stealing the hit song “Starboy”. Carrie Underwood is dodging questions about her upcoming baby’s gender. She recently revealed in an interview her heart-breaking story of two miscarriages and difficulty in having a baby. A California orthopedic surgeon who once appeared on a Bravo TV reality show and his girlfriend have been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women, 7 alleged victims have come forward so far. Asia Argento said that Rose McGowan will be hearing from her lawyers over statement on Jimmy Bennett sex assault case. Tom Arnold and Mark Burnett allegedly had a physical altercation at a pre-Emmy party and LAPD is investigating. Tom Arnold has been demanding for and is hosting a new show about tapes that Mark Burnett allegedly has from The Apprentice TV show that would be damning to President Trump. Carol Burnett Show star, Tim Conway, is recovering from brain surgery, as his family battles over the comic’s fate. Khloe Kardashian is leaving Los Angeles and moving back to Cleveland for Tristan Thompson, now that the relationship is now “great”. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian is upset with Kanye West, who announced he would move to Chicagor, as she has no plans to “leave her family in LA.” A Princess Diana friend says that Meghan is struggling to bond with some of Harry’s friends because of her “liberal” political views. Reese Witherspoon now says that the 2002 movie SWEET HOME ALABAMA is a carbon copy of her “life story”. Now that New York Fashion Week is over, the Alberta Ferretti Milan Fashion Week Show has begun. Anthony Bourdain’s estranged wife is selling their $3.7 million apartment, which she now shares with their daughter, three months after his suicide. Mourners attended Burt Reynolds’ private funeral service in Florida. Camille Grammer’s ex-boyfriend finally coughs up the $121,000 he was ordered to pay her in a bitter domestic abuse lawsuit. Chrissy Teigen notified the press that they have been mispronouncing her name all these years as TEE-GEN, when it is actually TIE_GEN. She’s also been having problems staying on her feet, falling off a chair in an NYC interview, after tumbling before the Emmys in Los Angeles. Hailey Baldwin calls her engagement to Justin Bieber the “biggest OMG moment” of her life in a new interview. Justin Bieber is reportedly worth $265 million but “refuses to get a prenup” with Hailey, as the thinks he will be married “forever”. Jessica Simpson is showing off her baby bump in clinging coat in NYC, after announcing her third pregnancy. Pope Francis and U2 frontman Bono share an embrace in Vatican City, as the pair discussed sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Friends star Matthew Perry, 49, was in “very serious medical condition” following surgery that left him bedridden for 3 months. Ben Affleck looks in good spirits as he makes another trip home to workout and then back to rehab, where he has been for almost a month of treatment. Chevy Chase brushed off his childhood abuse before slamming “not funny” Will Farrell and “horrible” Saturday Night Live, and making another racially-charged remark about Donald Glover. Miranda Lambert got a kiss from her father on stage as she kicks off her sold-out residency at The Country Music Hall of Fame. In the America’s Got Talent finale, they got it right and the young magician, Shin Lin, won last night for the $1 million Las Vegas contract. Jack Black received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, but of course, took the moment to lash out at President Trump, in typical Hollywood fashion.

This week’s box-office was weaker than expected, maybe because of the weather. THE PREDATOR, the new version, debuted at No.1 with $24.6 million (it cost $88 million to make), kind of low; No.2 was THE NUN, a scary movie, which had debuted at No.1 and made an astonishing $53.8 million (it only cost $22 million to make) last week, this week making $18.2 million; A SIMPLE FAVOR debuted at No.3 with $16 million; WHITE BOY RICK debuted at No.4 with $8.9 million; and CRAZY RICH ASIANS was at No.5, falling from No.3, with $8.7 million. PEPPERMENT, the new action movie with Jennifer Garner, fell from No.2 to No.6 with just $6 million, almost covering its production costs now. The other debut making No.10, was UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION which made $2.2 million in limited release.

Movies coming out this week: FAHRENHEIT 11/9 (Michael Moore film), THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LIFE ITSELF, AMERICAN DRESSER, ASSASSINATION NATION, COLETTE, GARRY WINOGRAND: ALL THINGS ARE, THE GREAT BATTLE, LOVE GILDA, THE PAGAN KING, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, and TEA WITH THE DAMES.

Technology & Space News:

The Elon Musk story continues to be one of two extremes, as his company SpaceX on Monday named its first private passenger on a 2023 voyage around the moon as Japanese billionaire Yusaka Maezawa, the founder and CEO of online fashion retailer Zozo; and it was announced Tuesday that Tesla, his other company, is facing US criminal probe by the Justice Department over his public statements. There is also reportedly a civil inquiry concurrently being run by securities regulators. Did you know that only 24 astronauts have flown beyond Earth’s magnetic shield? Maezawa said the cost of his ticket was “much higher” than the cost of a Basquiat painting, one of which he famously bought for a record-breaking price of $110 million. Facebook is building a “fake news war room” inside its California headquarters to co-ordinate its battle against the spread of misinformation during the upcoming US midterm and Brazilian elections. A mysterious FBI shutdown of Sunspot Solar Observatory for 11 days was due to an investigation into its night janitor downloading child pornography and not alien contact. A real-life “Planet Vulcan”, an exoplanet, has been found 16 light-years away from Earth. The planet is associated with star 40 Eridani A, which has been found to host only one planet, which is roughly twice the size of the Earth (a “Super Earth”) and orbits its star every 42 days. The reason it is associated with STAR TREK and Mr. Spock (the Vulcan) is that in publications “Star Trek 2” by James Blish in 1968 and “Star Trek Maps” by Jeff Maynard in 1980, they theorized that a ficticious 40 Eridani A could be the star of Planet Vulcan. Now, NASA’s new planet hunter, the Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope, has just found this planet, ironically orbiting the real-life star 40 Eridani A. It is not the first time that science fiction authors, like Gene Roddenberry (the creator of STAR TREK), George Lucas, or Arthur C. Clarke theorized decades earlier about things that astronomers are now finding to be real. The idea that this planet could be habitable for an advanced civilization is because its sun is slightly cooler and less massive than our Sun and has a 10.1-year magnetic cycle, compared to an 11.6-year magnetic cycle for our Sun. So far, it is the closest Super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star to Earth, at only 16 light years away. In other planetary news, scientists are arguing that Pluto should be reinstated as a planet. It was downgraded to “dwarf planet” in 2006 by the IAU. The IAU argued at the time that Neptune’s gravity influences its neighbor Pluto and that Pluto’s orbit is shared with frozen gases and objects and is not “cleared”. But, that definition for a planet is now coming under attack.

Political News:

President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, remains under siege from the media and goes to Senate Judiciary Committee to testify (along with his accuser who will testify) regarding alleged sexual assault he committed in prep school. He denies that the incident ever happened. The whole situation is eerily similar to what happened in 1991 with Anita Hill and Justice Clarence Thomas. However, then, many people feel, the Senate Judiciary Committee did not take the sexual harassment claims serious enough and mishandled the complaint.

US News:

A 25-year-old woman from Lake Worth, FL who lives in the trendy Logan Circle area of Washington DC, as a recently engaged tech company executive, was stabbed to death with multiple slashes to her neck, while she was out jogging in the early evening. Police have arrested and charged a suspect, as residents are stunned. There have been recent reports of stepped up human trafficking in northern Florida counties, where one suspicious male will follow lone females in Publix, Earth Ware, and other stores, while two accomplices with a van wait in the parking lot to drug and kidnap chosen victims, who are then whisked off, never to be seen again, thrown into the sexual slave trade. This is astounding that this kind of atrocious activity could be happening in the United States (or anywhere for that matter) and women must be vigilant in stores and in parking lots. Preferably they should be in groups or have access to phones to call 9-1-1 and, at the least, should scream and yell at men following them, to bring attention and discourage their assailants. Wanda Barzee, who was convicted for aiding street preacher Brian David Mitchell in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, was released from a Utah state prison on Wednesday after being sentence to 15 years in jail. In a shock decision, the parole board agreed to credit her for time previously served and released her 6 years early, to the outrage of the public. Elizabeth Smart has been discussing her nine months of abuse during the kidnap, but said she would not allow her captor’s release to impact her life. A Pennsylvania man, 59, died crashing his car into a house, bringing an end to manhunt after he tried to kill his ex-wife then murdered his elderly parents at their retirement home, because he had been served divorce papers. Three people have been killed in a Maryland warehouse district attack today and officials say the shooter may have been a woman. The unfolding scene is now described by authorities as having multiple victims and multiple injured. They also say that the suspect has been captured and is in critical condition.

International News:

During an Israeli airstrike, Syria shot down a Russian plane. The leaders of North Korea and South Korea ended their 3rd recent summit. North Korea said they plan to help South Korea land an upcoming Olympic Games in cooperation and to make the Korean Peninsula a nuclear weapon-free zone. North Korea’s leader says he “wants fast denuclearization” and a second summit with President Trump. The IOC has lifted the doping ban against Russia and reinstated them in international sports competitions. Far-right leader, Le Pen, has been ordered to take psychiatric tests, as part of a probe into her sharing of images of ISIS atrocities. Bobi Wine is back in Uganda allegedly “to fight”. Children in a cart were killed in a Dutch train crash. A Spanish university is facing fake diploma claims. President Trump has urged Spain to “build Sahara wall.”

Florida:

The blue-green algae disaster on the East Coast of Florida and red tide disaster on the West Coast of Florida are still on everyone’s minds and noses down here. Dead fish continue to pile up on Southwestern Florida beaches, as cleanup efforts for the red tide have intensified. A 77-year-old acquaintance of mine has died in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, after he was jumped and attacked by a young man outside a Stein Mart parking lot at 8pm two nights ago. Police are looking for the lone assailant.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, quite an honor! We have a gig this Friday 9/21 5:30-8:30pm at the PB Culture & Arts Center in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, and another gig the following Friday 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter, FL 5-8pm.

If you are interested in seeing more famous groups in concert, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise, October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami, October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood, October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale, December 15
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-9/11/2018

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles. And i/we’ve got two conferences coming up!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn and the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Monday’s Holidays or Events:

• Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day
• I’m On Top Of It Day
• International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
• International Make-Up Day
• National Boss/Employee Exchange Day
• National Swap Ideas Day
• National Hot Dog Day
• Sew Be It Day
• The Beginning of Rosh Hashanah (Judaism)
• TV Dinner Day
• World Suicide Prevention Day
• Amerindian Heritage Day in Guyana
• Children’s Day in Honduras
• Gibraltar National Day
• Saint George’s Caye Day in Belize
• Teachers’ Day in China

Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the US of 9/11/2001 at the World Trade Center in NYC, at the Pentagon, and a foiled attack on Washington, DC brought down by passengers in a field in Pennsylvania. During the attacks performed by using 4 commercial passenger planes, 2,996 people were killed (including the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others injured. 265 of the deaths were on the 4 planes. I was working at Morgan Stanley at the time and we had recently merged with Dean Witter, so we were the largest occupant of the World Trade Center towers, with some 3500 workers spread out on 28 floors. Our hero security team of 12 were the only Morgan Stanley fatalities, because of their valiant efforts. I lost many friends and many clients in the attacks. Many of us lost family members, co-workers, and friends in the attacks. Many people are still struggling with the after effects of the terrorist attacks, not just because of emotional loss, but also over 7,500 first responders at each of the sites has come down with some form of cancer, many of them dying. Doctors say that those cancers were caused by the toxic dust and hazardous chemicals from the attacks. We will never forget.

Some Famous People Born 9/10 in History:

• 920-Louis IV of France
• 1839-Isaac K. Funk, co-founder of Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia
• 1925-Roy Brown, American singer/songwriter
• 1927-Johnny Keating, Scottish trombonist/composer/producer
• 1929-Arnold Palmer, golfer/designer
• 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French fashion designer/photographer
• 1934-Roger Maris, MLB
• 1940-Roy Ayers, American singer/songwriter/musician
• 1941-Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game designer, invented Game Boy
• 1945-Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1946-Don Powell, English rock drummer (Slade)
• 1947-Larry Nelson, golfer
• 1948-Bob Lanier, NBA
• 1948-Charlie Waters, NFL
• 1949-Barriemore Barlow, English rock drummer/songwriter (Jethro Tull)
• 1949-Bill O’Reilly, American journalist/author
• 1950-Rosie Flores, American singer/guitarist
• 1950-Joe Perry, American singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1951-Bill Rogers, golfer
• 1953-Amy Irving, American actress
• 1957-Carol Decker, English singer/songwriter (T’Pau)
• 1960-Colin Firth, English actor/producer
• 1963-Randy Johnson, MLB
• 1968-Guy Ritchie, English director/producer/screenwriter
• 1972-James Duval, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ryan Phillippe, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ben Wallace, NBA
• 1983-Joey Votto, MLB
• 1985-Neil Walker, MLB
• 1987-Paul Goldschmidt, MLB

This Day in History (9/10):

• 506-the bishops of Visigothic Gaul meet in the Council of Agde.
• 1419-John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is assassinated by adherents to the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.
• 1509-an earthquake known as “The Lesser Judgment Day” hits Constantinople.
• 1547-the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the last full-scale military confrontation between England and Scotland, resulting in a decisive victory for the forces of Edward VI.
• 1570-Spanish Jesuit missionaries land in present-day Virginia to establish the short-lived Ajacan Mission.
• 1608-John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia.
• 1776-American Revolutionary War: Nathan Hale volunteers to spy for the Continental Army.
• 1798-at the Battle of St. George’s Caye, British Honduras defeats Spain.
• 1813-the United States defeats the British Fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
• 1823-Simon Bolivar is named President of Peru.
• 1846-Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.
• 1897-Lattimer massacre: a sheriff’s posse kills 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners in Lattimer, PA.
• 1898-Empress Elisabeth of Austria is assassinated by Luigi Lucheni.
• 1918-Russian Civil War: the Red Army captures Kazan.
• 1919-Austria and the Allies sign the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye recognizing the independence of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
• 1936-the first World Individual Motorcycle Speedway Championship is held at London’s Wembley Stadium.
• 1939-WWII: the submarine HMS Oxley is mistakenly sunk by the submarine HMS Triton near Norway and becomes the Royal Navy’s first loss of a submarine in the war.
• 1939-WWII: Canada declares war on Germany, joining the Allies (Poland, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia).
• 1942-WWII: the British Army carries out an amphibious landing on Madagascar to re-launch Allied operations in the Madagascar Campaign.
• 1943-WWII: in the course of Operation Achse, German troops began their occupation of Rome.
• 1960-Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.
• 1961-in the Italian Gran Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari.
• 1967-the people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
• 1974-Guinea-Bissau gains independence from Portugal.
• 1976-a British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident and an Inex-Adria DC-9 collide near Zabreb, Yugoslavia, killing 176.
• 1977-Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
• 2000-Operation Barras successfully frees 6 British soldiers held captive for over two weeks and contributes to the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War.
• 2001-the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration concert was held September 7th and September 10th in NYC’s Madison Square Garden, hosted by Michael Jackson. I was actually there on 9/10/2001. The star-studded shows not only featured MJ and a reunion of The Jacksons, but also featured performances by Samuel L. Jackson (narrating), Usher, Mya, Whitney Houston, Marlon Brando (speech), Billy Gilman, Shaggy, Monica, Al Jarreau, Jill Scott, Deborah Cox, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Liza Minnelli, Destiny’s Child, Ray Charles, Cassandra Wilson, Elizabeth Taylor (introduction), NSYNC, Britney Spears, Chris Tucker, Dionne Warwick, Gloria Gaynor, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Aaron Carter, and Gladys Knight. Several of the stars were actually staying at the downtown Marriott Vista hotel, which was destroyed during the following day’s terrorist attacks.
• 2002-Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, becomes a full member of the United Nations.
• 2007-former PM of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, returns to Pakistan after 7 years in exile, following a military coup in October 1999.
• 2008-the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.
• 2017-Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a Category 4, after causing catastrophic damage throughout the Caribbean. Irma will result in 134 deaths and $64.76 billion in damage.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Upon his death, pirate Olivier Levasseur had tossed a cryptogram into a crowd and told them if they could figure out his message, his treasure (now estimated at $200 million) would be theirs, a treasure that to this day has never been found.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“The past cannot be cured.”—Queen Elizabeth I

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/22 closed at $68.63/barrel. Today (9/10) however, it has pulled back on concerns that US inventories are growing, closing at $67.54/barrel. I was able to find gasoline at $2.66/gallon at my West Palm Beach gas station, but most stations have gasoline prices up about 5 cents from where they were last week, not down like oil. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.10, unchanged from where it was on 8/28. The USD was at 1.1597 versus the Euro, stronger since 8/28. The USD is sharply down since 8/28 against the GBP, at $1.3027. The USD is much higher versus the CAD to $1.3159 since 8/28. Gold closed today at $1196.20/ounce, down from where it was 8/28. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Last week, it broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. If you thought you’d seen the lows, however, you were wrong. It is already down 65% since its peak in December, but now the stochastics point to potential further problems. It keeps having lower highs and the Directional Movement Index is suggesting that bullish buying pressure has ended and selling pressure has begun. It closed today at $6,413.87. Bank of Canada met to discuss monetary policy and chose to keep rates unchanged at 1.50%. Weak data continues out of Germany. France’s trade gap narrowed in July. It’s industrial production also showed steady growth. In Italy, bond yields finally fell, after FM Tria signaled his pledge to keep the fiscal deficit below 3% of GDP. However, Italy’s retail sales dropped in July, the fourth drop in five months. Mexican Economy Minister said his country wants a dispute over US steel and aluminum tariffs resolved before it signs the renegotiated NAFTA. US business leaders have urged President Trump to reconsider tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods. They say retaliatory tariffs would increase costs and would stifle innovation, according to Bloomberg. Australia’s NAB business confidence index fell 3 points to a reading of 4 in August.

“’A devaluation of oilsands assets’: New rules on sulphur will make a fifth of output uneconomic within two years…From the lack of available pipeline capacity to the potential adoption of electric cars, there is no shortage of threats facing the Canadian oilsands. But the latest menace lies in a seemingly innocuous and highly common element: sulphur.” National Post

“U.S. refinery maintenance expected to weigh on Canadian heavy crude prices…Canada’s heavy oil producers face sustained pressure as big U.S. refineries gear up for seasonal maintenance, sapping demand just as the industry grapples with delays to proposed export pipelines.” Globe and Mail

“Trump Eyes a Japan Trade Fight: In a Thursday phone call, the President sounds courteous and stable, but unfortunately still focused on trade deficits. People inclined to believe that the President is crazy should pause before accepting such diagnoses from journalists without medical degrees quoting anonymous non-doctors in the federal bureaucracy. But investors hoping for a quick end to the Trump trade debates may have reason to be nervous.” Wall Street Journal

S&P’s China-Ratings Plan Risks Too Many Triple-A’s: S&P Global Inc. is developing a custom credit-rating scale for China that will likely mean more triple-A’s, worrying investors about inflated grades. The credit-rating company, which is setting up an independent business in China, recently said it will tailor a system for rating bonds from businesses, local governments and other issuers there.”  Wall Street Journal,

“China Sees Hints of a Past Threat: Inflation…..Pork is up. Vegetables are up. Gasoline is up. Even the official numbers, usually tame, are up. Prices are rising in China — and that could complicate Beijing’s efforts to prop up a slowing economy and navigate President Trump’s trade war.” New York Times

“China asks WTO for sanctions in U.S. trade dispute: China will ask the World Trade Organization next week for permission to impose sanctions on the United States, for Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over U.S. dumping duties that China initiated in 2013, a meeting agenda showed on Tuesday. The request is likely to lead to years of legal wrangling over the case for sanctions and the amount. Last year China won a WTO ruling in the dispute, which related to several industries including machinery and electronics, light industry, metals and minerals, with an annual export value of up to $8.4 billion.” Reuters

Global Financial News:

The US trade deficit posted the biggest one-month increase since March 2015 as rising imports and falling exports pushed it to $50.1 billion in July, according to Commerce Department. Emerging Markets are now in their longest slump since the Financial Crisis, according to Bloomberg. The bear market has arrived for emerging market stocks, as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has closed more than 20% below a January high, entering the bear market. The US Senate has confirmed Elad Roisman, chief counsel of the Senate banking committee, as a member of the SEC. The House GOP says that a US government shutdown is unlikely, although President Trump said that the government will shut down before 9/30 if discussions about a border wall remain unresolved. The White House Council of Economic Advisers says wages in the US have risen 1.4% in the past year, disputing statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that say they have slowed, according to the NY Times. Fund managers are showing enthusiasm for European high-yield debt, despite political tensions in Italy and $10 billion in issuance expected this month. The UK Financial Conduct Authority and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission have both urged the EU to ease access to bloc for foreign banks and other financial institutions, as the UK and EU negotiate future trade terms post-Brexit. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has proposed a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solution, in which he would repeal their charters and institute Ginnie Mae, a government corporation that would effectively guarantee repayment to investors in Federal Housing Administration and other government-insured loans via a network of approved issuers. J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the CFTC, says the odds of US deference to foreign regulators regarding derivatives trading will increase if the EU abandons a proposal to expand oversight of US clearinghouses. Concerns about the escalating US vs China trade battle continue to bother investors. China reportedly is inviting US bankers to a meeting with Chinese VP Wang Quishan and other officials Sunday in Beijing. China reportedly hopes the meeting becomes a biannual event and improves financial relations between the countries. AXA has secured all regulatory approvals for merger with XL Group.

“House Republicans Push to Lock In Tax Cuts Past 2025…Even though the legislation dubbed “Tax Reform 2.0” isn’t likely to become law this year or have significant practical effect on individual tax returns until today’s sixth-graders are in college, Republicans see advantages in voting now.” WSJ

US Market News:

The Dow Jones has waffled lower since my 8/29 Repo Commentary, closing today down 59.47 points to 25,857.07. S&P 500, however, was up another 5.45 to close at an astonishing 2,877.13, nearly 300 points above where it was during my 8/29 Repo Commentary. Nasdaq was also up another 21.62 points to close at 7,924.16, which was below the 8,030.04 is set on 8/28. US Treasury prices closed today lower, with yields higher on 2years at 2.73% (up 2bp), 3years at 2.78% (unchanged), 5years at 2.83 (up 1bp), 7years at 2.89% (up 1bp), 10years at 2.94% (up 1bp), and 30years at 3.09% (down 2bp). Many market participants, particularly repo market participants, have been lamenting the huge supply by the US Treasury in the front end of the market. The trading of US Treasuries is shifting to direct-streaming venues from electronic platforms to avoid minimum spread sizes and high platform fees. So far, those alternative venues represent only about 10% of the market, but experts say the shift is gathering momentum, according to Risk. Unemployment claims have fallen to the lowest level since 1960s. Small business optimism has surged to the highest level ever, even higher than during the Reagan era. Republicans have unveiled a plan to make tax cuts permanent.

Housing News:

The latest US housing data last week showed the market wobbling and began investors worrying. In talking to my real estate friends down here in Florida, it’s about not having enough supply to meet demand, particularly on the commercial real estat side. However, it’s hard to believe when you see all the new condo skyscrapers being built and new gated communities being built. But, even the office of Employment in Florida has issued an alert that they need more builders, carpenters, etc. to build all of this growth in population. The real estate brokers say that it is still a sellers’ market, that they hold the upper hand in negotiations in Florida, the opposite of what I hear is happening in the metropolitan NYC area, especially in the luxury real estate market. CBS put out a warning article today to real estate investors, saying that home prices in the US have never been higher, since January’s housing values eclipsed the 2006 pre-Crisis peak and since have only pushed higher. CBS points to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates higher which will have a negative impact on home affordability, a slowdown in new home construction and sales of existing homes, and weakening demographics. Millennials, hampered by rising student loan debt and cooling wages, have very low homeownership rates. Their rate is about 8% below the homeownership rates of Gen X and Baby Boomers before them at the same age. CBS is not the only one raising a flag, as I reported last week that CNBC had had a similar article, and even Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group is warning of a “mass exodus” on the horizon as the “homeownership demand from younger generations is insufficient to fill the void left by multitudes of departing older owners.” There always seems to be 2 residential real estate markets when you talk about real estate, particularly in NYC. There’s the buy/sell real estate market and the rental real estate market. It turns out that year-over-year, rents in Queens saw an 8.3% increase in July, far outpacing Manhattan (1.7%) and the national average (2.8%). However, NYC buy/sell real estate currently favors the buyer’s, particularly at the high-end. Bloomberg has reported that sellers are reluctantly finally coming around. However, it doesn’t appear that the new tax bill has had much impact yet, according to the NY Times.

Canadian commercial real estate investment reached new heights in the second quarter, boosted by a pair of big acquisitions and by the lure of attractive, income-producing property. Transactions reached $16.5 billion. That’s 38 per cent more than the previous record, set in the first quarter of last year, and more than twice the five-year quarterly average, CBRE Group Inc. said in a report Monday. Deal volume for the first six months was $26.8 billion, a half-year record. Business FinancialPost

Repo News:  

Friday’s employment report hurt short-term interest rates, sending repo rates higher, with the market now pricing even more Fed tightening. They still haven’t priced a full 4th tightening, but a greater percentage of one. It looks like one on 9/26 FOMC is a foregone conclusion and another one on 12/19 FOMC is very likely. That brings us to 2019, where the market just a few weeks ago was only pricing in one more 2019 Fed tightening. That appears to be changing now.

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. GC Treasury collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. Month-end funding pressure showed up this week, particularly yesterday, with Treasury GC trading O/N at 2.05-2.10% for month-end, which also happens to be over a long (4 day) Labor Day holiday weekend. Coupled with the long holiday weekend, is a huge settlement of 2year notes, 5year notes, and 7year notes. This is part of the net new US Treasury issuance in August of $200 billion. September is expected to have much less US Treasury issuance.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3ctimes in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

NY Fed President John Williams said that a flattening or inversion of the yield curve would not be the deciding factor or drive Federal Reserve interest rate decisions.

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, signaled the U.S. central bank should continue raising its benchmark short-term interest rate at its current quarterly pace over the coming year, including at policy meetings this September and December… After that point, he said it was likely tight labor markets and strong economic growth could prompt additional rate increases designed to deliberately slow the economy and prevent overheating. WSJ

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

An earthquake in the south of Hokkaido, Japan resulted in at least 17 deaths. It triggered deadly landslides and knocked out power to millions of people.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence coming
Gordon done
Helene coming
Isaac coming
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. 9/10 is statistically the most active date of the hurricane season. It is also the anniversary of last year’s devastating Hurricane Irma, which destroyed much of the Florida Keys. So far, September hasn’t disappointed with Gordon having hit Florida and then surging to the Gulf coast of Alabama and Louisiana, leaving a wide swath of heavy rains and fatal flooding in the South, particularly in parts of Texas. Right behind Hurricane Gordon, Hurricane Florence is strengthening, maybe up to Category 4, and is targeting South Carolina and North Carolina towards the end of this week, and the Atlantic coast prepares for his first hurricane landfall of the season, and it could be a bad one. Governors are issuing evacuation orders, the US Army at Fort Bragg has suspended several field operations, to keep soldiers safe, the US Navy is moving out much of its fleet from Virginia, and there are increasing concerns about some nuclear plants that are in the path. Already formed behind Florence, is Tropical Storm Isaac which is not expected to make it to Hurricane and my impact some of the Caribbean before it is wiped out by wind sheer. Behind Tropical Storm Isaac, is Hurricane Helene, right near the Cape Verde islands. She may cause a problem, as the NHC recently upgraded her. There is also a Tropical Depression which has formed around the Yucatan Peninsula, but has a very low chance of forming into a Hurricane. Multiple tropical waves are forecast to emerge off the coast of western Africa, some of which could develop into tropical cyclones.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Typhoon Jebi affected Taiwan and Japan, killing at least 17 people and causing extensive damage in the Kansai region of Japan. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Storm Paul is slightly stronger at 45mph.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, the heat has come off to just high 80s and low 90s, rather than high 90s, but humidity is very high and daily thunderstorms continue to pop up. The Northeast had warmed up suddenly last week, but now has cooled and is experiencing some serious rain, some of which is causing flooding and delaying sporting events. The Southwest has also gotten somewhat stormy, while the West Coast remains quite sunny and warm. Summer snow is now blanketing Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. So much for Fall. My friend in Maine always asks me, since I live in Florida, “don’t you miss the 4 seasons?” and I reply, “don’t you?” I at least get Summer and one or two days of Spring, while he gets Winter and two weeks of Summer.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 85% over, with around 20-23 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have righted their ship, after finally hitting one of those losing streaks that have plagued all the other MLB teams, but they still never lost 4 games in a row (yet). They are the only MLB team this year to have accomplished that feat (or not accomplished that feat). Their lead over the Yankees increased to 9 ½ games, as the Red Sox just swept the NL East first place Braves, mostly in impressive comebacks, and won 7 of their last 10. The Yankees just finished battling the red-hot A’s, who could be their Wild Card one-game opponent, and the A’s have sights on either stealing the AL West division from the Astros, or, at the least, grabbing home field advantage for that game against the Yankees. The A’s managed to beat the Yankees two out of those three games. This past weekend, the Red Sox staved off a 3-game sweep at Fenway by the Astros, with a walk-off win Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Yankees also lost 2 out of 3 to the Mariners. In the AL Central, it’s nothing but Indians now, having opened up a 16 ½ game lead over the Twins, who just lost 8 of their last 10. So much for all the off-season trading and drafting by the Twins. In the AL West, despite the A’s beating up the Yankees, they didn’t gain any ground on the World Champion Astros, who won 7 of their last 10 and lead by 3 ½ games. Switching to the NL East, the Braves, despite being swept by Boston, still held a 3 ½-game lead over the Phillies, who also lost 6 out of 10. The Nats didn’t gain on the Braves either, having also lost 6 out of 10. The NL Central has been interesting, but the first place Cubs are finally getting their act together offensively and on the mound. Yu Darvish is out for surgery and Cole Hamels has been good. The Cubs still have a 4 ½-game lead over the Brewers and 5-game lead over the Cardinals, who are quietly very much in contention. In the NL West, it has been neck-and-neck, with the Diamondbacks hitting a skid, losing 7 of 10, and falling out of first place, while the Rockies snuck into first place and the Dodgers won 7 of their last 10. The Rockies lead by 1 ½-games over the Dodgers and 2 1/2-games over the Diamondbacks. This could go down to the last week of the season.

In case you are watching the AL MVP or potential Triple Crown race, Red Sox Mookie Betts’ slight slump may have opened the door for his teammate, J.D. Martinez’s bid for the Triple Crown. He was leading J.D. in batting average .348 to 3.30, but now leads by only one percentage point .336 to .335. And those two lead all of MLB in batting average. In Home Runs, J.D. Martinez has 39, second to A’s Khris Davis with 40 (which leads MLB), and ahead of Indians’ Jose Ramirez with 37. In RBIs, J.D. leads MLB with 115 and Khris Davis is second with 106. So, J.D. is very close to a potential Triple Crown, last accomplished by Miguel Cabrera in 2012 (and Carl Yastrzemski before that in 1967), but there is still a lot of time left. Indians’ Jose Ramirez is likely to become MLB’s first 30-30 man (30 HRs and 30 stolen bases) in years, and has a chance to actually be a 40-40 man. The last 30-30 men were Mike Trout in 2012 and Ryan Braun in 2012. The last 40-40 man was Alfonso Soriano in 2006. I remember when Jose Canseco did it in 1988, followed by Barry Bonds in 1996, and Alex Rodriguez in 1998. After mentioning all this great hitting, particularly on the AL side, the current MLB batting average is the lowest at this point in the season since 1972. So, pitching has been dominant. I never would have guessed, but there was only one no-hitter in MLB last year (and one in 2016) and there have already been 3 this year (one was combined between 4 pitchers). In 2015, there were 7 no-hitters.

83-year-old brother of former Dodgers’ legend manager Tommy Lasorda was killed in a car crash this week in Boca Raton, FL. The “Marlins Man” reportedly will sign a 1-day contract with Miami, ending the feud between him and the team. The superfan, who in real-life is a Florida lawyer, will sign for 9/17 and make his first visit to Marlins Park this season. His big day will include a media conference, a chance to shag balls in the outfield, and the opportunity to present the Marlins’ lineup card to the umpires. He had been a season ticket holder since the franchise started in 1993 and always stood out in orange behind home plate on telecasts. He was even spotted in the same outfit at about 200 other sporting events each year. But, he became angry when the franchise was sold and the team traded away its top stars. So, he faced off against Derek Jeter in a Town Hall meeting held for grievances. He still offered the team $200,000 for 3 years of his season tickets behind home plate, but the team wanted $220,000, so he renounced his fanship, becoming a free agent. It is now official, 2B star Dustin Pedroia will not return to the Red Sox this season. Manager Alex Cora made the announcement Friday and added that Pedroia has arthroscopic knee surgery in July. He is still under contract with the Sox for another 3 years. The team has been platooning Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, newcomer Ian Kinsler, and Brandon Phillips in his place. The Red Sox will be getting back ace Chris Sale for this weekend’s series against the World Champion Astros in Fenway Park. Tony Gwynn’s family has settled with the tobacco company that they associated with his death. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco will miss remainder of season with injury. A few people celebrated the 20th anniversary of Mark McGwire’s 62nd HR. Although it broke Roger Maris’ record, it is still a very controversial record in a very shady MLB period of history. You all may disagree with me, but I have heard the Hall of Fame officials say that the Hall is about the history of the game, not just those that are honored. How do you skip the history of 5years of HR battles between Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, when everyone was glued to the TVs?. Attendance and viewership was way up and money for the MLB was way up, how could they suddenly say they didn’t benefit from that and it wasn’t part of MLB history. Even Shoeless Joe Jackson’s story is in the Hall of Fame. Why aren’t these juiced HR hitters, one of the top 2 pitchers of all time, Roger Clemens, and the No.1 hitter (and without juice), Pete Rose? How do you have a display, “oh, here is the No.2 hitter of all time’s placque”? Several teams are reportedly upset about the Indians’ Josh Donaldson trade, from the Blue Jays at the 8/31 deadline, including the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros, all likely playoff teams in the AL. Those teams want to know just how Donaldson cleared waivers in the first place. The rules state that a player must be certified as healthy in order to be placed on trade waivers. There was a dispute with the Blue Jays over his health, but somehow Donaldson agreed he was healthy when the MLBPA got involved. Yet, when he arrived at the Indians, he was placed on the 10-day DL. Donaldson is a free agent at the end of the year, but, because he cleared waivers, is eligible to play this year and in the playoffs.

Tennis:

The 138th US Open was played at Forest Hill in Queens. There have been some major surprises in this major and some unbelievable performances. Roger Federer was knocked out by the No.73 tennis player. Serena Williams has been crushing opponents and actually changed her style of play to more like doubles and playing the net in the semifinals to wipe out her opponent. I would be scared to see her looming at the net with all those rippling muscles! And a sport that typically isn’t mire in controversy wound up there Saturday afternoon for the Women’s final, between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. Serena was losing early and was penalized a point by the umpire for illegal coaching from her coach. She vehemently denied that any infraction occurred and argued strongly with the umpire. She said that the umpire was calling her a “liar” and a “cheat” and she said “she would rather lose than win that way.” She also said that this always happens to her at the US Open and that it’s because she is a woman. When play resumed, the umpire then announced the score of the next set by awarding a full game, without a point being served, to Serena’s opponent, for the verbal abuse of an umpire. That started another tirade, which included other tournament officials. But, her pleas of it being “unfair” and “he should apologize” were ignored, and frazzled, she went on to lose the match and the Major tournament. She was very gracious to her opponent in the awards ceremony afterwards, but it was clear that she was still upset with tournament officials and the umpire, who she didn’t even shake the hand of at the end of the match. This will likely be a major new story for several months, very unusual controversy in tennis, and particularly close to home, given that the Williams’ sisters live here in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. On Sunday, the WTA fined Serena $17,000 for verbally abusing the chair umpire, receiving coaching advice during the match, and breaking her tennis racket in anger. Most people are supporting Serena, and several male tennis players have described their bad behavior, which was not fined or penalized. However, Martina Navratilova has called Serena out on her bad behavior. Overshadowed, was Naomi Osaka’s first Grand Slam event win and the first Japanese player to win a US Open singles event.

Golf:

Shocking news in the world of golf, as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy each shot 62 in the first round of the FedEx Cup’s next event, the BMW Championship which started Thursday in Pennsylvania. They fell off the pace on Friday, but regained form on Saturday, as other star players bunched up near the top of the leaderboard. On Sunday, play was suspended for the final round because of weather. They resumed today, just outside of Philadelphia, on the soggy course with damp and cold weather. At the end of the round, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose wound up tied at -20 and went into a Playoff. Rose could have won it with a putt on the 18th, but missed. Then, shockingly missed a short putt for Par on the first playoff hole. Bradley won for the first time on Tour in 6 years. There was a silver lining in the loss for Rose, as he moved to No.1 in the World ranking. The top 30 players will play in the final FedEx Cup event in Atlanta at EastLake for all the money. On the European Tour, I wouldn’t want to be a putter for Thomas Pieters. This guy in May’s European Tour’s BMW Championship broke an iron in half after a bad shot. This week, at the Omgea European Masters, after 2 opening birdies, was looking good until he had a double bogey and a quadruple bogey, and, of course, snapped his putter in half. Thing is, in the pros, you can’t replace the club, so now you are putting with whatever, a 1-iron, a 3-wood, etc.

Fighting:

Boxing

Manny Pacquiao is suing Top Rank Boxing over unpaid fees for Matthysse fight. This weekend, welterweight Amir Khan gave a dominant performance in his unanimous decision over Samuel Vargas in Birmingham, England and then called out Manny Pacquiao, although fans really want to seem him take on fellow Englishman Kell Brook.

9/15 huge buildup for mega middleweight rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas.

9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

At the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, Monza’s Temple of Speed, Russian Time’s Tadasuke Makino won the thrilling F2 Feature Race. In the F2 Sprint Race, George Russell, the F2 championship leader in points, won, putting him further ahead of Lando Norris. Before the race, the point spread between Russell and Norris had closed to just 5 points, as Russell had gone on winless run of 8 races. In the GP3 Feature Race, David Beckmann won his second race with new team Trident Racing, narrowly ahead of ART Gran Prix’s Anthoine Hubert.

In the IndyCar Series, the San Diego Grand Prix is coming up this weekend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. He also made news by estimating for an interview that he had at least 20 concussions during his racing career. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500. NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now all of the teams have played their two weeks. The College of the Ozarks, an NAIA program in Missouri, will no longer wear their Nike-designed jerseys, following the company’s decision to feature former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick in its advertising campaigns. My Michigan State Spartans, after barely beating unranked Utah State in Week 1, wound up losing a close game with Arizona State in Week 2, falling from a contender at No.13 to barely in the running at No.25.

Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Original Top 25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State
After week 2, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (2-0)
2. Clemson (2-0)
3. Georgia (2-0)
4. Ohio State (2-0)
5. Oklahoma (2-0)
6. Wisconsin (2-0)
7. Auburn (2-0)
8. Notre Dame (2-0)
9. Stanford (2-0)
10. Washington (1-1)
11. Penn State (2-0)
12. LSU (2-0)
13. Virginia Tech (2-0)
14. West Virginia (2-0)
15. TCU (2-0)
16. Mississippi State (2-0)
17. Boise State (2-0)
18. UCF (2-0)
19. Michigan (1-1)
20. Oregon (2-0)
21. Miami (1-1)
22. USC (1-1)
23. Arizona State (2-0)
24. Oklahoma State (2-0)
25. Michigan State (1-1)

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season began Thursday night with a sloppy game between the Super Bowl Champ Eagles and the Falcons, won by the Eagles, 18-12, holding off the Falcons near the goal line at the end of the game. The Eagles managed to cover the 1-point spread. How much do Steelers’ players hate teammate Le’Veon Bell for continuing to hold out for more money and expecting to do so at least into November? It’s one thing for the star RB of the team to hold out in the offseason or even the preseason, but during the season is very unusual and is having a disastrous impact on the Steelers’ chances. He was expected to show up this week and sign his one-year franchise player tender, as he has done the last couple of years for whopping $14.55 million, by far the most for any RB in the NFL. The Steelers offered him a longterm deal around $15 million per year, which Bell turned down. So, the options for the Steelers at this point are: 1) rescind the franchise tag for 2018, which would make Bell a free agent and allow him to sign with any team (which could be their rival Bengals or Patriots); 2) the Steelers could place a no franchise designation for 2019 in Bell’s contract, then Bell would become a free agent next year (which they should do anyway, since the franchise tag next year will go up to $23 million); or 3) give Bell a raise for 2018, as they aren’t allowed now to extend him with a longer contract. Rams’ RB Todd Gurley will earn more than $20 million this year, so maybe that’s Bell’s goal. Bell is now forfeiting $855,529 for each game he misses this year and, if he doesn’t report by Week 11, he will be barred from playing in the NFL for anyone in 2018. Up until Gurley signed his $14 million per year contract, the highest paid RB was paid $8.5 million/year. Running backs are looked at as limited positions by the free agency market with particular scrutiny about their age, injuries, and usages, and they tend to have shorter NFL careers because of the wear and tear and banging. Wide receivers, for example, tend to get hit only if a ball is thrown to them and then usually only once. Running backs bounce off most of the defensive line and secondary players on every play, getting hit continually. Of course, Bell has been arguing that his 400 plus touches each year include a lot of wide receiver work too. As I mentioned, Nike shocked the public by announcing that they would be featuring former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick in a controversial ad campaign that applauds his kneeling protest during the National Anthem two years ago. The ad first featured on Thursday night’s game received mixed reactions from the public. The stock market has not been kind to Nike’s stock price since the announcement. Heavy rain and high winds are expected to affect the Browns’ season opener against the Steelers. Chargers DE Joey Bosa will miss the opener against the Chiefs. The Browns are expected to reach out to free agent superstar WR Dez Bryant again. Falcons’ safety Keanu Neal will be out for the season with torn ACL in Thursday night’s game. Broncos’ QB Tommy Maddox will be the NFL’s youngest-ever starting QB. Former Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has been arrested and charged with rape. Richard Sherman says an NFL lockout in 2021 is “going to happen.” Eagles No.1 starting QB, Carson Wentz, will not be cleared to play for “several weeks” according to report. Former Browns LB Mychal Kendricks has pleaded guilty to insider trading. Chargers’ retired legend, Antonio Gates, has been reportedly practicing with his ‘family’ and may be available for the Chargers’ opener. Earl Thomas reportedly ended his holdout and will report to the Seahawks. The Patriots won an NFL record 78th straight game when leading by 10+ points at halftime. Veteran RB Adrian Peterson, picked up late by the Redskins, reached 2 milestones Sunday: his 100th career rushing TD and he surpassed Jim Brown for total rushing yards of 12,312, to move into 10th place on the all-time rushing list. After a blowout loss to the Ravens Sunday, Bills’ coach Sean McDermott won’t commit to starting QB. Still free agent superstar WR Dez Bryant has named the to possible teams he would consider, the Patriots and the Redskins. Seahawks’ WR Doug Baldwin went on IR with knee injury. The Steelers/Browns tie was the first NFL tie in Week 1 since 1971. Heavy rain and winds had an impact on the entire game. The Steelers seemed not to miss RB Le’Veon Bell, and they rescinded his franchise tag, but also said they have no plans to trade the disgruntled holdout. Former NFL player Kenyatta Jones has died at age 39. Jaguars lost RB Leonard Fournette with a hamstring injury. Bucs’ WR DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion. Texans’ CB Kevin Johnson, who just came back from being out 2 games for a concussion, suffered another concussion against the Patriots. That will likely leave him unable to play for 4-6 weeks. Also, the Texans star OT Seantrel Henderson is likely out for the season with an ankle injury. As for National Anthem debate, the League and the Players Association never came to an agreement on policy, but there didn’t seem to be much dissension in Week 1. I only saw two players for the Dolphins kneeling during the National Anthem. Adam “Pacman” Jones has been forced to pay $12.4 million for 2007 strip club incident. Bucs’ suspended QB Jameis Winston lost his Nike endorsement deal. The Falcons placed Keanu Neal on IR and signed DE Steven Means. Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen left game early with foot injury. Bengals safety Shawn Williams was ejected after his helmet-to-helmet hit on QB Andrew Luck of the Colts. Titans TE Delanie Walker gruesomely broke his ankle in the Dolphins game, after a catch and tackle, and will be out for the season, in a game that went over 6 hours because of two huge rain delays in Miami. Also, Titans QB Marcus Mariota had to leave the game with an elbow injury. Incidentally, NFL fans are slamming Carrie Underwood’s new Sunday Night Football theme song.

Week 1 NFL schedule:

Bills @ Ravens, Ravens picked by 7.5, but probably win by more. Well, the Ravens won by a lot more 47-3.
Bengals @ Colts, Colts by 3, but I smell an upset by the Bengals. Sure enough, the Bengals upset the Colts at the end, although QB Andrew Luck had a good comeback, but not good enough.
Texans @ Patriots, Patriots by 6 ½, Patriots will probably win a close one, but not cover the spread. Well, the Patriots did win and they DID cover the spread. Game was sloppy, particularly for Texans QB Watson, and the score made it seem closer, 27-20, than it actually was.
Jaguars @ Giants, Giants by 3, Jags could upset Giants 17-13. I called this one close, as the Jags did upset the Giants 20-15.
Steelers @ Browns, Browns by 4, probably only time browns picked to win, most analysts think the Steeler s will eke out an upset. Well, I called this one well, as the Steelers had a large lead, despite 3 interceptions by Big Ben. But, then the Browns came back and tied it up to go to OT, where neither team could make their field goals and had to settle for a tie. So, maybe that’s a moral victory for the Browns, but they still are winless in their last 17 games.
49ers @ Vikings, Vikings by 6 1/2, analysts expect the Vikings to blow them out. The Vikings did win 24-16.
Buccaneers @ Saints, Saints by 9 ½, analysts either think the Saints will blow out the Winston-less Bucs or win and not cover the spread. Well, neither of those happened, as it turned out to be shootout and an upset by the Bucs 48-40.
Titans @ Dolphins, Titans by 1 1/2, Dolphins may upset Titans. I was right again (I should have bet on all these games!), as the Dolphins did eventually upset the Titans 24-17, with both teams scoring 2 Q4 TDs, after a long rain delay.
Chiefs @ Chargers, Chargers by 3 1/2, despite the Chargers losing last 8 games to Chiefs, analysts think Chargers will win at home over rookie QB. The analysts were wrong and the Chargers lost their 9th in a row to the Chiefs, 38-28.
Cowboys @ Panthers, Panthers by 3, I think cowboys could be better than thought, but this is anyone’s game. And It really was anyone’s game, a sloppy, boring one, in which the Panthers prevailed 16-8.
Seahawks @ Broncos, Broncos by 2 1/2, the Seahawks lost lots of people and are expected to get beaten by the Broncos. I expected the Broncos to win big, but they won a close one, 27-24.
Redskins @ Cardinals, Cards by 1, this is expected to be really close, with the Cards just edging Redskins. Well, the analysts were wrong and the Redskins put up 21 Q2 points and trounced the Cards, 24-6.
Bears @ Packers, Packers by 7 1/2, nobody is expecting the Bears to win but the trade last week for the best defensive player in the NFL will make this a much closer game. And indeed the analysts were right. Malik had a sack, caused a fumble and had an interception for a TD; a huge impact. He also injured QB Aaron Rodger’s leg early, knocking him out of the game. That helped the Bears establish a 20-0 lead into Q3, when the resilient QB came back and led the Packers all the way back to a stunning comeback win 24-23.

Monday 9/10 (a rare double-header MNF)
Jets @ Lions, Lions by 6 1/2, expected to be much closer, with Lions winning. Well the pundits were very wrong about this one, despite QB Sam Darnold of the Jets throwing an interception on his very first pass, as the Lions became unglued and QB Matt Stafford threw 4 interceptions, with the Jets crushing the Lions 48-17.
Rams @ Raiders, Rams by 4, I think the Rams could be one of the super bowl teams, but it’s very early.  Some analysts think the Rams could blow the Raiders out. I couldn’t stay up late enough to see if the pundits were right, but it turns out they were. Despite a lackluster start by the Rams, they outscored the Raiders in the second half 23-0, to secure a 33-13 win.

NHL:

The NHL training camps start this week. The first preseason games are 9/15. The puck drops on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. Former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is headed to the Golden Knights, after a lengthy contract debate and deteriorating relationship with the team that he played for for 10 years. The Canadiens get in return veteran Tomas Tatar and top prospect Nick Suzuki. Pacioretty was a five-time 30-goal scorer, but Tatar is a 4-time 20-goal scorer. The Golden Knights needed this trade, after losing James Neal to free agency, losing Nate Schmidt to 20 game suspension, and after picking up veteran Paul Stastny. The Flames signed All-Star Noah Hanifin. The Jets signed captain Blake Wheeler to a 5year contract extension. The Capitals took the Stanley Cup on its first trip to China and had it at the Great Wall. A Seattle NHL team expansion is edging closer to reality. 4-time Stanley Cup champion, Ab McDonald, died at age 82. Devils’ great, Martin Brodeur, has joined the team’s front office. The Maple Leafs hired Canada hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser for a front-office role.

NBA:

Luol Deng agreed to one-year deal with Timberwolves. The Celtics are now favored to take the LeBron-less East. The West looks like it could be a wild shootout. Cavs Rodney Hood accepted a qualifying offer.. Celtics’ Jabari Bird was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges.

In Women’s basketball, Canada came close to an upset, but couldn’t defeat team USA. In the 2018 WNBA Finals, the No.1 Seattle Storm take on the No.3 Washington Mystics. The Storm are led by their veteran Sue Bird, who could have left after their disappointing 2015 season, but stayed in Seattle, and their new WNBA MVP, Breann Stewart. The matchup will also include Mystics’ former MVP Delle Donne. Despite having a combined 33 years of coaching experience between them, both coaches are vying for their first WNBA title.

Travel News:

The 200-year-old National Museum in Brazil went up in flames. One person is dead after a Russian passenger plane went off a Sochi runway and caught fire. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the iconic toy store, FAO Schwartz, which was featured in the movie BIG and had its headquarters across from The Plaza Hotel in NYC, as well as many locations throughout the country, particularly at high-end malls, like one in Las Vegas? Well, although the company filed bankruptcy and closed all of its stores, it is returning to NYC and will have a new home at Rockefeller Center in November. NYC also has had 26 Step-Above Sports Bars suddenly spring up all over. Macau casino stocks are tumbling on growth concerns. An archeologist believes he has now determined the secret of Stonehenge. Stonehenge, which lines ups perfectly with the sun for 5,000 years on two days per year, has huge stones that were thought to have been dragged there from hundreds of miles away, or flown there by ancient aliens, and have been worshipped by druids and others for hundreds of years. Anyway, this guy thinks the stones just happened to already be there on site. Recent analysis of the people buried there have shown they were all from a civilization that was hundreds of miles away. So, I don’t think the puzzle has been solved. Our booming US economy led to record summer travel. Las Vegas is booming again, but also preparing for next slump, taking some chips off the table.

Health News:

I’m not sure now if I am on the Keto Diet or the Paleo Diet, which was kind of a modified Atkins Diet, whatever. Something about carbs are bad and try to get the body to burn fat or fatty acids for fuel, which is much more efficient, like a Tesla, without the production problems. Meat and certain veggies and fruit are good, as is chocolate and caffeine, but carbs and sugar are bad. You’ll tell me if it worked when you see me in October at RMA and November at Finadium. There is a growing risk of Lyme disease and a new debate over why there isn’t a vaccine for humans but there is for dogs and cats. Doctors say that it could take 3-10 years to develop a version for humans, which would also protect us from other tick-borne diseases. A new study suggests that millions of elderly Americans are hooked on Xanax. Venezuela has turned to breast milk donations, as baby formula prices soared. CDC officials are already urging to prepare for a very bad flu season. I will be getting my vaccine soon. A cryogenics firm is being sued for freezing a man’s head instead of his whole body.

Animal News:

A shark bit a man swimming in St. Lucie County. An elephant massacre is underway in Botswana, as poachers killed 90 animals, in just the past 2 months. It appears that poachers are targeting male elephants older than 35, killing them near watering spots and hacking off their tusks, said Elephants Without Borders spokesman. Six white rhinos have also been killed and mutilated. Botswana has long been a refuge for some 130,000 of the gentle giants, more than one-third of Africa’s remaining elephants. Conservationists think it is no coincidence that the massacre has occurred right after the government chose to change its law allowing its anti-poaching force to shoot any poachers on sight, and disarming them without any explanation. That government team had killed 52 poachers over the past 20 years. There is also a recent poaching problem in Asia for Asian elephants who are poached for their skin. Britain is imposing one of the world’s toughest ivory bans. Hong Kong recently voted to ban all ivory sales. Did you know that Utah wildlife officials airdrop thousands of fish into lakes? Florida has been plagued with non-native Burmese pythons that don’t appear to have a natural predator (except occasionally alligators, although it goes both ways), reproduce frequently, and grow to be gigantic. Now, there is a new concern, as officials have discovered hybrid pythons, which could threaten the Florida Everglades even more. The hybrids harbor more robust genes that allow them to adapt various types of environments. A Facebook illegal animal trade has been exposed in Thailand. New research has revealed that low doses of a commonly used pesticide potentially harm the Northern Leopard frog by inhibiting their brain development. The Australian fur seal pup population is shrinking, despite species-wide protection implemented in 1975. Evidence of exposure to phthalates, chemical compounds used in hundreds of consumer products, has been found in resident bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, which are endocrine disruptors. A new study suggests that rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles may bite more people during rainy years than in seasons of drought.

Entertainment News:

Actor Burt Reynolds, a local resident here in Jupiter, FL, died of a heart attack on Saturday at age 84. Reynolds first rose to prominence in TV on Gunsmoke, Hawk, and Dan August shows. His breakout movie role was in DELIVERANCE and he then had several subsequent box office hits, including THE LONGEST YARD, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, SEMI-TOUGH, HOOPER, THE CANNONBALL RUN, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS and BOOGIE NIGHTS. Although during his career, he claimed to have been born in Waycross, GA, he was actually born in Lansing, MI.
Sylvester Stallone says the new RAMBO movie production is “starting soon”. FAST AND FURIOUS spinoff’s first day of production began today. It will be called HOBBS AND SHAW. Amidst sexual allegations by 6 more women (total now 12 according to reporter with New Yorker magazine, while negotiating his exit package with CBS, Chairman Leslie Moonves finally leaves CBS. His exit package was estimated to be as high as $100 million. His wife of 13 years, Julie Chen, has stood behind him and has decided to take a few days of her CBS show The Talk. Somehow, if you like I missed it, Miss New York was crowned Miss America. I no longer really understand the need for pageants anymore. 200 actors and scientists have banded together to demand climate change action. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held last night and John Legend became the first black man to reach the rare and elite status of EGOT (having now won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), as he won the Emmy for Jesus Christ Superstar. He has 10 Grammy Awards, received his Oscar in 2015 for his song “Glory” in SELMA, and received his Tony in 2017 for his role as co-producer of “Jitney”. Also, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice also achieved EGOT status, winning Emmy’s for the same show with Legend. The late Anthony Bourdain won 6 posthumous Emmys for Parts Unknown. The actual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced next week, at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Michael Che and Colin Jost of Saturday Night Live, when Legend is also nominated for an outstanding actor in a limited series or movie. Olivia Newton-John has been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. James Van Der Beek has opened up about his wife’s 3 miscarriages. Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder have split after 6 years of marriage. Last Man Standing star Tim Allen has thanked fans for support. Rapper Mac Miller died of a possible overdose last week at the age of 26. An autopsy was performed but more tests are needed. He was the ex-boyfriend of singer Ariana Grande. Although fans are upset with Carrie Underwood’s latest song for NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America, she is set to receive her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ryan Lochte and Kayla Rae apparently got married again. Hollywood/Broadway legend, Carole Cook, went after President Trump, saying she wants to see President Trump get assassinated, and asking, “Where’s John Wilkes Booth when you need him?” That’s in very poor taste and comedienne, Kathy Griffin, did much less to ruin her career. New York Fashion Week has begun and started with a tribute by Kate Spade’s company for the late style icon and a birthday for designer Karl Lagerfeld. Former Disney star Orlando Brown has been jailed in Las Vegas, pending domestic battery trial. Gwen Stefani says Blake Shelton’s ex is creepy. Ewan McGregor’s daughter Clara regrets calling her dad’s girlfriend “trash”. Drake and Meek Mill have ended their long-standing feud at Boston concert. Nikki Minaj and Noah Cyrus is furious at boyfriend Lil Xan’s accusation that she’s cheating with Charlie Puth. IMAX has signed a new deal in China.

This week’s box-office was not as weak as expected, maybe because of the weather. THE NUN, a scary movie, debuted at No.1 and made an astonishing $53.8 million (it only cost $22 million to make); PEPPERMENT, the new action movie with Jennifer Garner continued the strong trend that started with SUPERWOMAN for female action movies, debuting with $13.4 million (it only cost $25 million to make); CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which had debuted at No.1 two weeks ago and then somehow stayed at No.1 again last week, this time fell to No.3, with $13.1 million, (total so far $135.8 million) in its 4th week; the megladon Shark movie THE MEG, which still made $6.1 million in its 5th week ($131.7 million total for a movie that cost $130 million, so just crossed the boundary); and No.5 was SEARCHING with $4.6 million in its 3rd week. GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD was the only other debut to break the Top 25, at No.11.

Movies coming out this week: THE PREDATOR (a remake of the original PREDATOR that had Arnold Schwarzenegger), A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN:PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK, AMERICAN CHAOS, ANTONIO LOPEZ 1970:SEX FASHION, ARMED, BEL CANTO, THE CHILDREN ACT, THE DAWN WALL, DON’T LEAVE HOME, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, HE’S OUT THERE, LETTER FROM MASANJIA, LIZZIE, MDMA, PATIENT ZERO, SCIENCE FAIR, THE RIOT ACT, and A WIZARD’S TALE. Now, that school has started pretty much everywhere in the US, more movies are coming out and we are starting to see some of the horror movies for our upcoming Halloween holiday (we still have the very important Veteran’s Day holiday before then though).

Technology & Space News:

Saudi Aramco is looking into creating a $1 billion venture capital fund to invest in companies with technology that complements its petroleum-based business. The company reportedly might open an office in the US to help if find deals, according to the WSJ. WSJ reports that Alibaba’s Zhang has been nicknamed “Free and Unfettered”. Optium Cyber Systems entered into agreement to acquire security firm. Stryker will acquire Invuity. USA Technologies stock fell 11% on news it won’t meet filing deadline. Mysterious radio bursts from outer space have been detected. US military is now getting new tooth radios for secret communications. Apple has a huge announcement tomorrow (9/12), when it will likely announce new products (and my Verizon salesrep says it will reduce prices on existing products, which is great for me since my iPhone 6 is having its third malfunctioning lithium battery). Bezos is banning books around him. Amazon is talking about putting some workers in a cage? A DC airport has surprised passengers with facial-recognition boarding.

Political News:

President Trump is fighting back against Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House”, which allegedly reports on disturbing feelings of White House staffers towards the President.

US News:

A gas explosion outside of Pittsburgh, PA forced evacuations today. Two more suspects have been arrested in the fatal shooting of North Carolina mayor and his wife. Rep Ron DeSantis has resigned from Congress to focus on his race for Florida Governor. In Dallas, a policewoman entered an apartment that she claims she thought was her own and shot and killed the unarmed resident. She is now facing manslaughter charges, which could be upgraded to murder charges, as the police investigation continues. Illegal crossings of the US border have surged, as 100 Bangladeshi Nationals were just apprehended near Texas.

International News:

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate in the upcoming Brazilian presidential election, is stabbed during a campaign rally. The Supreme Court of India struck down portions of the colonial-era Section 377, thereby making all private consensual sexual acts between adults legal. Arif Alvi was elected as President of Pakistan. On Sunday, North Korea celebrated its 70th birthday with a huge military march, similar to the annual march in Red Square in Russia. But, for the first time, this parade had the goose-stepping troops, artillery, and tanks, but no missile launchers or ICBMs. Clearly, the North Korean president was trying to show a different message to the world than previously. President Trump actually tweeted “thank you” to Kim Jong Un after the parade. Germany’s new far-right campaign poster is being assailed as unsubtly racist. Austerity and 2008’s Financial Crisis are being blamed for Sweden’s far right gains in their election and not the refugee crisis. The Samoan PM has said that leaders who deny climate change are “utterly stupid.” A Catholic School for Youth with hearing problems was raided by Argentine authorities in sex abuse inquiry. Britain has charged 2 Russians over nerve agent Novichok poisoning in Salisbury. A UN report says that the rate of migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea spiked in 2018. Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of militant Afghan Haqqani Network, has been found dead. Norwegian police have launched an investigation into disappearance of WikiLeaks associate. Reuters journalists in Myanmar were sentenced to 7 years in prison for breaching State Secrets Act. Worldwide gun deaths have just crossed the 250,000 level for the year. UN experts say that some Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen may actually be war crimes. The UN has accused the Myanmar army of genocide in Rohingya deaths. Treasurer Scott Morrison will become Australia’s next PM. South Africa is “close to a war zone” with 57 murders per day..

Florida:

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for parts of Florida. The West Coast, particularly Southwest (which is very unusual) is suffering the worst bloom of Red Tide in Florida’s history, and scientists are actually pointing to African desert sand as a possible culprit, not human pollution. On the East Coast, the state is suffering from deadly blue-green algae, which is directly linked to the runoffs (both East and West) from Lake Okeechobee and use of phosphorous in fertilizer for the sugar plantations just south of Lake Okeechobee that now block the runoff from seeping into the filtering swamps of the Everglades. Both problems are deeply impacting the wildlife, fishing industry, and tourism industry of Florida.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, quite an honor! We are beginning to ramp our gigs again as season approaches. I am back in the sweltering heat in my genuine polyester jumpsuits occasionally.

If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Scorpions and Queensryche-Hollywood, September 12
Dierks Bentley-West Palm Beach, September 14
Sammy Hagar-Hollywood, September 15
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise, October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami, October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood, October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale, December 15
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-8/29/18

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Three generations of heroes.
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I just thought it was humorous, not leaning either way.
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so true in Florida!
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new turbo Harley
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You’re doing it wrong!
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Hysterical!
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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. You can also view it through LinkedIn and through Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Tuesday’s Holidays or Events:

• Today is Election Day for many states in the US for mid-term elections.
• Crackers Over the Keyboard Day
• Dream Day Quest and Jubilee
• International Read Comics in Public Day
• National Bow Tie Day
• National Power Rangers Day
• National Cherry Turnovers Day
• Radio Commercial Day
• Red Wine Day
• Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day
• Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day
• Touch-A-Heart Tuesday
• Pony Express Day
• National Grandparents Day in Mexico

Some Famous People Born 8/28 in History:

• 932-Richard I, Duke of Normandy
• 1023-Go-Reizel, Emperor of Japan
• 1749-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, diplomat
• 1774-Elizabeth Ann Seton, American nun and Saint, co-founded the Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition
• 1899-Charles Boyer, French-American actor, singer, producer
• 1913-Jack Dreyfus, American founded the Dreyfus Corporation
• 1925-Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, dancer
• 1930-Ben Gazzara, American actor
• 1932-Andy Bathgate, NHL
• 1942-Sterling Morrison, American singer, guitarist
• 1943-Lou Piniella, MLB
• 1943-David Soul, American actor, singer
• 1950-Ron Guidry, MLB
• 1957-Daniel Stern, American actor, director
• 1958-Scott Hamilton, American figure skater
• 1964-Lee Janzen, American golfer
• 1965-Shania Twain, Canadian singer, songwriter
• 1969-Jack Black, American actor, comedian, singer
• 1969-Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of Leanin.org
• 1969-Jason Priestley, Canadian actor, director, producer
• 1969-Pierre Turgeon, NHL
• 1971-Todd Eldredge, American figure skater
• 1971-Janet Evans, American swimmer
• 1982-LeAnn Rimes, American singer, songwriter, actress
• 1986-Armie Hammer, American actor
• 1989-Cassadee Pope, American singer, songwriter

This Day in History (8/28):

• 475-the Roman general Orestes forces Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos to flee his capital city of Ravenna.
• 489-Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.
• 632-Fatimah, daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad dies, with her cause of death being a controversial topic among the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.
• 1189-Third Crusade: the Crusaders begin the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.
• 1521-the Ottoman Turks occupy Belgrade.
• 1524-the Kaqchikel Maya rebel against their former Spanish allies during the Spanish conquest of Guatemala.
• 1542-the Turkish-Portuguese War: Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese are scattered, their leader Christovao da Gama is captured and later executed.
• 1565-Pedro Menendez de Aviles sights land near St. Augustine, Florida and founds the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental US.
• 1609-Henry Hudson discovers Delaware Bay.
• 1619-the election of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.
• 1789-William Herschel discovers a new moon of Saturn, Enceladus.
• 1810-Battle of Grand Port: the French accept the surrender of a British Navy fleet.
• 1830-the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s new Tom Thumb steam locomotive races a horse-drawn car, presaging steam’s role in US railroads.
• 1833-King William IV gives Royal Assent to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, although slavery remained legal in the possessions of the East India Company until the passage of the Indian Slavery Act of 1843.
• 1845-the first issue of Scientific American magazine is published.
• 1849-after a month-long siege, Venice, which had declared itself independent as the Republic of San Marco, surrenders to Austria.
• 1861-American Civil War: Union forces attack Cape Hatteras, NC in the Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries, which lasts for two days.
• 1862-American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), which ended 8/30.
• 1867-the US takes possession of the (at this point unoccupied) Midway Atoll.
• 1879-Cetshwayo, last King of the Zulus, is captured by the British.
• 1898-Caleb Bradham’s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
• 1913-Queen Wilhelmina opens the Peace Palace in The Hague.
• 1914-WWI: the Royal Navy defeats the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.
• 1914-WWI: German troops take the city of Namur in Belgium.
• 1916-WWI: Germany declares war on Romania.
• 1916-WWI: Italy declares war on Germany.
• 1916-ten Suffragettes are arrested while picketing the White House.
• 1924-the Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.
• 1937-Toyota Motors becomes and independent company.
• 1944-WWII: Marseille and Toulon are liberated.
• 1955-black teenager, Emmett Till, is brutally murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.
• 1957-US Sen. Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.
• 1963-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
• 1964-the Philadelphia race riot begins.
• 1968-rioting takes place in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, triggering a brutal police crackdown.
• 1988-Ramstein air show disaster: 3 aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. 75 people are killed and 346 seriously injured.
• 1990-Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.
• 1990-an F5 tornado strikes the Illinois cities of Plainfield and Joliet, killing 29 people.
• 1993-the Galileo spacecraft discovers a moon, later named Dactyl, around 243Ida, the first known asteroid moon.
• 2003-in “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI”, Brian Wells dies after becoming involved in a complex plot involving a bank robbery, a scavenger hunt, and a homemade explosive device.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Seven of the first eight Olympic Gold Medals in the Hammer Throw were won by Irishmen born within a 30-mile radius of each other.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”—Oscar Wilde

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/23 were at $67.88. On 8/28, it closed at $68.63/barrel, about $1 higher. However, that has not translated to higher gasoline at my West Palm Beach gas station, which actually dropped this week from $2.67 to $2.64/gallon. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.22, unchanged from where it was on 8/23. The USD was at 1.1658 versus the Euro, weaker since 8/23. The USD is also down since 8/23 against the GBP, at $1.2889. The USD is sharply lower versus the CAD to $1.2941 since 8/23. Gold closed yesterday at $1212.36/ounce, up from where it was 8/23. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Last week, it closed a little stronger at $6,534.50. But, today, is broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. Ireland’s FM says a no-deal Brexit is “very, very unlikely” but he said that Ireland will not back down on the key issue about the Irish border. We are in the midst of a British holiday. The GBP has been strengthening, despite a Bloomberg report that officials from both sides of the Brexit debate do not believe a deal is likely by the 10/18 EU Summit, and are instead looking at negotiating something maybe by mid-November.. There are also increasing concerns of a no-deal Brexit.. Overnight, investors continued to cheer the new US-Mexico trade deal, pushing world stock indexes higher and showing higher openings for US stocks, already having set new record highs yesterday. There is still a question on whether Congress will approve the new deal, with a deadline of 9/1. The new Mexican government takes over on 12/1. Today, Canada returns to the negotiation table with the US to see if they can hammer out a deal for themselves. President Trump has given Canada 4 days or face punishing 25% auto tariffs. The Mexican peso was down today after a 2-day rally. Canada’s dollar is up in anticipation of a potential trade deal. Turkey’s lira continues to fall. The Bank of Korea meets on Friday to set monetary policy, but with weak jobs growth, speculation has retreated from an interest rate increase. In Germany, GfK consumer confidence surprisingly slipped in September. It’s still only slightly below February’s record high. France’s preliminary estimate of Q2 real GDP was unrevised while monthly consumer spending increased in July, but was a weaker-than-expected result.

“Canada scrambles as U.S., Mexico ink NAFTA pact.” Globe and Mail

“U.S., Canada Launch Talks Amid Pressure to Rewrite Nafta…U.S. and Canadian negotiators began a last-minute sprint to complete a North American Free Trade Agreement rewrite, as pressure built on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cut a deal and President Trump faced skepticism from Congress.” WSJ

“Trump Hails U.S.-Mexico Trade Pact, Says ‘We’ll See’ With Canada.” Wall Street Journa

Global Financial News:

Business Insider reported last week that leveraged loans to nonfinancial companies has risen to about $1.4 trillion, which is “eerily” similar to where they were in 2008. As thousands of college students head back to school, carrying bookbags, knapsacks, and billions of dollars of student loan debt, one wonders if this albatross around their necks is hindering their future success? I don’t know if this is related or not, but college dropouts in the US now surpass those heading back to school. A new study suggests that, despite a strong US economy, many Americans are struggling to get by.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed up a mere 14.38 points on Tuesday, leaving it at 26,064.02. S&P500 was up at 2597.52, unable to hold on to another record high. Nasdaq was up 12.14 points to 8030.04. The S&P 500 continued the longest US bull market in history. The WSJ reported that experts say Treasury market yields should trend up and that hedge funds and other investors are betting on those higher yields. Some economists and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says the yield on the 10-year note could reach 5%. It’s interesting, because global risks seem to be increasing, so there could be a flight to quality, and with stocks near all-time highs, will higher yields attract money away from stocks. That’s what I said at the end of last week, and wouldn’t you know it, on Monday, the S&P 500, the Dow Jones, and the Nasdaq all hit record highs. S&P 500 closed above 2,900 for the first time. Nasdaq Composite closed above 8,000 for the first time. The DJIA closed above 26,000 for the first time since February. Investors were thrilled about the new US-Mexico trade deal, which resolved several key issues between the two countries and the 5-year ‘sunset clause’ was extended to 16-years. Meanwhile, US Treasury market slumped, with the 10year yield moving toward 2.90% this morning. The trade deal helped investors ignore other macroeconomic events, such as President Trump’s ongoing legal issues, saber-rattling in Syria, decreasing gains in denuclearizing North Korea, Turkey’s faltering economic system, and fresh Russian sanctions. US Treasuries closed yesterday lower, with yields on 2years at 2.671%, 3years at 2.728%, 5years at 2.769%, 7years at 2.837%, 10years at 2.879%, and 30years at 3.029 (breaking through the 3% barrier). Many market participants, particularly repo market participants, have been lamenting the huge supply by the US Treasury in the front end of the market.

“Yield Curve Suggests Rising, But Still Low, Risk Of Recession, San Francisco Fed Says.” Wall Street Journal

Housing News:

CNBC reported last week that the housing recover isn’t over, it just feels like it. US new home sales sunk to a 9-month low, as housing market appears to wobble. US existing home sales declined for 4th straight month in July too. Homebuilder sentiment fell to the lowest point in almost a year. Weekly mortgage applications have also dropped last week. A new report from real estate firm NeighborhoodX reveals NYC is the most expensive place to buy real estate in the country on a per square-foot basis, with some rates over $10,000/square foot! NYC luxury apartment sales have dropped, as evidenced by Million Dollar Listings-New York. CNBC looked into tax laws and less international buyers as the obstacles. HUD has filed a discrimination complaint against Facebook. New Zealand has banned foreigners from buying houses, in parliament’s hopes to bring down ever-rising housing prices. Baltimore received a $30 million grant to help housing redevelopment. The city’s overall plan is for $889 million to revitalize 3 neighborhoods. CNBC says that “unaffordable” Hong Kong home prices could fall by double digits. Today, we see the Case-Shiller home prices report, which should show the slowing of price increases to a 6.4% annual pace in the US. Sure enough, home prices in 20 US cities posted the smallest gains since 2016. Las Vegas has now dethroned Seattle as the nation’s hottest housing market, after Seattle held the top spot for nearly 2 years. The Case-Shiller report showed that Seattle, which had topped the home price report for 21 months in a row (second-longest streak in the report’s 31-year history), had drastically cooled off (although it is still No.2). Las Vegas, which was the poster-child for the housing bubble and foreclosures, losing more than 60% of its peak value and foreclosing at a rate six times the national average, has seen low inventory and skyrocketing housing prices double their low-point in 2012. Also, population and employment growth have driven prices, as Las Vegas is among the fastest growing US cities. The typical single-family house in Las Vegas now sells for $290,000, just above the US national average, but much cheaper than the median home in Seattle at $805,000. Before you run to Las Vegas to buy a house though, take note that in June, Fitch Ratings said Las Vegas was the most over-valued home market in the country, with home prices 20-24% higher than market fundamentals would dictate. The same report said that Seattle was 10-14% overvalued.

“Britons Are Dipping Into Pensions to Help Children Buy Houses… Britain’s baby boomers are sacrificing their retirements to hoist their poorer offspring onto the property ladder. Nearly one in five over 55-year-olds are accepting lower living standards to help family members to buy a home, according to a Legal & General report on Tuesday” Bloomberg

Repo News:  

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. GC Treasury collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. Month-end funding pressure showed up this week, particularly yesterday, with Treasury GC trading O/N at 2.05-2.10% for month-end, which also happens to be over a long (4 day) Labor Day holiday weekend. Coupled with the long holiday weekend, is a huge settlement of 2year notes, 5year notes, and 7year notes. This is part of the net new US Treasury issuance in August of $200 billion. September is expected to have much less US Treasury issuance.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I’m thinking of going to this one too. I have moderated/sponsored this one before.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3ctimes in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A massive 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit six miles deep and 188 miles off the coast of Oregon, increasing fears that “the Big One” will soon hit the US. This latest quake followed an intense week of seismic activity in the Ring of Fire, where some 70 earthquakes hit in just 48 hours. A cluster of 16 movements above 4.5 magnitude hit Monday and 53 hit the same region last Sunday. Researchers are examining the rings of drowned trees in landslide-dammed lakes for clues to further hazards in the Cascadia’s quakes. The quakes have been felt in Indonesia, Bolivia, Japan, and Fiji, all part of the horseshoe-shaped Ring of Fire fault line between the Pacific Plate and the Juan de Fuca Plate. “The Big One” is the name of a large earthquake that hits along the 700-mile-long divide between the two plates about every 400 years. This area is also known as the Cascadia subduction zone, where one plate moves underneath the other. “The Big One” was estimated to be above magnitude 8 and were around 600 BC, 170 BC, 400 AD, 810 AD, 1310 AD, and 1700 AD. I’ve spoken in the Commentary about the Ring of Fire several times, so let me show you a map of it (which I think you can only see on the http://www.repocommentary.com website):

The Northwest quakes are not the only ones getting seismologists’ attention right now. In July, a 100-foot fissure opened up in Grand Teton National Park, not far from the potentially catastrophic Yellowstone volcano. That followed some 155 small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park. Both parks have been closed periodically this season. Let’s keep an eye on this. A massive earthquake in Iran killed at least 2 people and injured hundred. It was in the same area that another earthquake killed more than 600 people in November. 26km SW of Javanrud, Iran, a 6.0 magnitude quake hit on 8/25. 138km WNW of Iberia, Peru, a 7.1 magnitude quake hit on 8/24. 45km SSE of Tanaga Volcano, Alaska, a 6.3 magnitude quake hit on 8/23. 10km West of Yaguaraparo, Venezuela, a 5.8 magnitude quake hit on 8/22. 265km WNW of Bandon, Oregon, a 6.2 magnitude quake hit on 8/22. 79km East of Lakatoro, Vanuatu (the most active quake area in the world), a 6.5 magnitude quake hit on 8/21. 30km NE of Rio Caribe, Venezuela, a 7.3 magnitude quake hit on 8/21.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
The NHC reports

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic begins this weekend. Multiple tropical waves are forecast to emerge off the coast of western Africa, some of which could develop into tropical cyclones.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Hurricanes are quite rare in Hawaii. In fact, since 1955, only 19 hurricanes have come within 300 miles of Hawaii. Yet, Hurricane Lane, which was up to Category 5, luckily hit Hawaii as a Category 2 storm. It still whipped the islands with 19 inches of rain.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is still ridiculously hot, with temps in the low to mid-90s for perhaps 40 days in a row and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. We are, once again, getting daily low, dangerous thunderstorms sporadically. The Northeast had cooled off last week and was experiencing some serious rain, in fact half a month’s worth in a short time. The temps had been cooler than average. But, that changed quickly and this week, temps were in the 90s and today are pushing 100 degrees in some areas. It has been having a dramatic effect on the US Open in Queens, NY, where 5 different players had to withdraw yesterday because of the heat. The Southwest has also gotten somewhat stormy, while the West Coast remains quite sunny and warm. Summer snow is now blanketing Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. So much for Fall. My friend in Maine always asks me, since I live in Florida, “don’t you miss the 4 seasons?” and I reply, “don’t you?” I at least get Summer and one or two days of Spring, while he gets Winter and two weeks of Summer.

The death toll from flooding in the Indian site of Karala has risen to 445. Nearly one million peace have been displaced.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 80% over, with around 30-35 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have finally hit one of those streaks that have plagued all the other MLB teams, losing 5 out of their last 7 games, watching their lead over the Yankees slip from 12 games to 6 ½ games. The Yankees have won 15 of their last 20, after losing 4 in a row to Boston. Now, if you are a superstitious Red Sox fan, like me (and most), this chart comparing 1978’s dreadful collapse and ultimate loss to Bucky Dent and the Yankees in a one-game playoff versus the curve of 2018 record, could get your heart out of rhythm. (I think only the people that look on my website will be able to see this chart):

Of course, the Yankees would have to go 22-9 in their last 31 games and the Red Sox would have to go 15-15, just to tie. So, the Red Sox have won 90 games and have the best record in baseball, although they have lost 3 in a row. They have yet to lose 4 in a row this year, the only team in the Majors who hasn’t. Yankees will be getting Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge soon, they hope, off of the DL. The Rays have now won 8 in a row. The Orioles have lost 8 in a row and now have an ugly 37-94 record. In the AL Central, the Indians remain perched atop the division, with the Twins 13 games behind, after the Twins lost 3 in a row. The Tigers also lost 3 in a row. In the AL West, the Astros have a 1 ½-game edge over the A’s and 6 ½ games over the Mariners. The Astros have won 5 games in a row. Whichever team doesn’t win this division will likely be battling with the Yankees from the other Wild Card spot. In the NL, it’s a 5-team race for the Wild Card. In the NL East, the Braves have opened up a 3-game lead over the Phillies and an 8 ½-game lead over the Nats, who have pretty much given up. In the NL Central, the Cubs have won 5 in a row to push their lead to 4-games over the Cardinals and 4 ½-games over the Brewers. Both of those teams have legitimates sights on a Wild Card spot. The Reds have lost 5 games in a row. In the NL West, the Diamondbacks have won 7 out of 10 to take first place, the Rockies have won 7 out of 10 to trail by 1-game, and the Dodgers have won 3 in a row to climb back to 2 ½ games behind. This has been a tight race all year and continues to be.

Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals tied a St. Louis record with 4 doubles in the same game, in a rout of the Rockies. The latest trade deadline is 8/31 and the Mets were particularly active. They had already traded pitcher Jeurys Familia to the A’s, who has been a key addition, and Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies. The Mets traded last year’s Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista to the Phillies, after the 37-year-old free agent had found no suitors until the Braves picked him up for a minor league contract. He was then released in May by the Braves and picked up by the Mets. The Phillies had claimed him on waivers, so they now owe the Mets cash or a player to be named later. Blue Jays Kendrys Morales is nearing an MLB record, with home runs in 7 straight games. The record is 8, held by Ken Griffey, Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long. The lights went out again at Dodgers Stadium against the Padres. Giants’ catcher, Buster Posey, has opted for season-ending knee surgery. The fountain at Royals field flooded the outfield and the bullpen, causing a 30-minute delay. Ace Matt Harvey stays with Reds after Brewers waiver claim. Braves’ sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. resumed his HR run against the Marlins and got plunked again by the pitcher. Indians IF Jose Ramirez has a chance to pull off a rare honor, to lead the AL in HRs and stolen bases. Somehow, I’ve avoided this story, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to miss any news items for you. Astros’ superstar ace Justin Verlander revealed that he was charged a hefty price Friday for his team’s World Series win last year, $1 million. The MLB pitcher shared a photo on Twitter of his check from a restaurant at The Beverly Hills Hotel in California, in which a “miscellaneous” charge for being a “Dodger Killer” was listed along with various menu items. The Astros beat the Dodgers 4 games to 3, with a 5-1 win in Game 7.

If you are fans for one of those teams that has already thrown in the towel, you may be interested to know that MLB has already released its 2019 regular season schedule and will have the earliest Opening Day game EVER, on March 28, 2019!

Meanwhile, the 72nd Little League World Series had been going on between 16 teams, and Game 30 was the Championship Game in Williamsport on 8/26. Hawaii (who had beaten Southeast 3-0) beat Asia-Pacific (who had beaten Japan 2-1) 3-0 to win the championship. Japan was the defending champions from last year. In the consolation game, Japan beat Southeast 8-2.

Tennis:

All focus is now on the last major, the 138th US Open, being played at Forest Hill in Queens. Serena Williams was told that she cannot where her white catsuit anymore at the French Open, revealing a new dress code, which caused a minor controversy. Nike and Billie Jean King defended her. Her first match was Monday, and in a little tongue-in-cheek, she won wearing a tutu. Her sister, Venus, weathered the steamy heat, looking a bit drained, to beat her Russian opponent. Roger Federer’s first match is Tuesday. The matches actually began last week with the qualifiers and run through 9/9. A shocker already, as women’s No.1 seed Simona Halep was ousted in two sets in her first match, versus Kaia Kaneopi! On the men’s side, Andy Murray had a tough time in his first match with Australian Duckworth. Five players had to withdraw yesterday from their matches because of the extreme heat and a heat index (incorporating humidity) has been over 100-105 degrees.

Golf:

Tiger’s surprising play at the US Open Championship got him into the mix of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and may have secured him a spot to PLAY in the Ryder Cup, rather than just Vice-Chair it again. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, first Tiger is played in the Northern Trust tournament this past weekend, his first FedEx Cup Playoff event since 2013. He did not play great, but made the cut, barely, after lipping out a 3-foot putt on the 18th hole on Friday. Playing bogie-free golf, while admirable (and probably unattainable for me) just doesn’t win tournaments. He finished at -4. Bryson DeChambeau ran away with the tournament, in Paramus, NJ. This week’s FedEx Cup tournament is the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston, and Rickie Fowler has already had to withdraw because of that nagging oblique injury. On the Champions circuit, 6 straight birdies propelled Scott Parel to his first Champions title.

Soccer:

The ex-chief of Brazil soccer has been sentenced to 4 years in prison after a FIFA probe. Zaha could soon play for Real Madrid.

Fighting:

Boxing

IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer signed co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing for multiple fights. He will have an 10/20 title defense against Jemes Tennyson on DAZN. Also on the card will be WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade.

9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.

9/15 huge buildup for mega rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas.

9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.

Apparently, I thought I had grabbed the majority of the US populace with NASCAR news and occasional horse racing news, but I really need to expand my horizons, according to some of my European an Far East clients. So, this weekend was the Forumula 1 Johnnie Walker Belgian Grand Prix and the winner was Sebastian Vettel who drove a Ferrari. He beat a Mercedes driven by Lewis Hamilton (which sounds oddly familiar). My Mercedes when I had one couldn’t beat a Vespa, so I’m not surprised that Ferrari won. But seriously, I’m not sure what “starting grid”, “qualifying” and all these “practice” positions indicate. I’m obviously going to have to do some more research. If it matters, Sebastian Vettel, from Germany, was vaulted into the No.2 position overall in Driver Standings, ahead of another Ferrari driver with a lot of umlauts and behind said Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain. Beyond that, there was something about a ‘halo’, a ‘smash’, and a ‘grid penalty’. A ‘grid’ seems to be what they call the pole position and where the drivers qualified, but I’m not sure yet. I haven’t watched F-1 since the 1970s and that time I ran into that Michael Schumacher character at one of our Repo Conferences.

NCAA Basketball:

Five-star Kahlil Whitney has committed to Kentucky. Former Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, faces a felony charge for allegedly failing to disclose sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, but most major teams haven’t played yet. Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald has been suspended by the team for the season opener. Alabama coach Nick Saban has not chosen whether Hurts or Tagovailoa will start at QB. At Florida State, they finally named Deondra Francois as starting QB against Virginia Tech. Michigan WR Tarik Black will be out for “some weeks”. Clemson named Kelly Bryant as starting QB over Trevor Lawrence. Nebraska announced that freshman Adrian Martinez will be starting QB. USC freshman JT Daniels won the starting QB competition. 8 Rutgers football players have been arrested in connection to a credit card scam.

Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Top 25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State

NFL:

The NFL preseason has concluded its 4 games for each team. The NFL regular season is 9/6. In 2018, the highest paid players will be 1. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons-$30 million; 2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings-$28 million; 3. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers-$27.5 million; Matt Stafford, QB, Lions-$27 million; 5. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders-$25 million; 6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints-$25 million; 7. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts-$24.594 million; Alex Smith, QB, Redskins-$23.5 million; Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens-$22.13 million; and 10. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers-$22 million. The top 10 paid players will be ALL QBs and none of them named Brady! Brady, doesn’t even show up on the list until No.16 for $20.5 million. A non-QB doesn’t show up on the list until No.19 Von Miller, OLB, Broncos-$19.083 million. Jaguars WR Marquis Lee will have knew surgery and go on injured reserve. The Patriots agreed to a 5-year deal with OL Mason. The Giants are reportedly close to paying WR Odell Beckham Jr. a big money 5-year extension. Bills’ QB Josh Allen struggled in preseason loss to Bengals. The Broncos signed longtime Bengals’ Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones. Bengals’ Andy Dalton got standing ovation from Bills fans and threw TD on first drive. The Vikings acquired center Brett Jones from the Giants. 31-year-old Patriots WR Eric Decker has announced his retirement from the NFL. The Patriots are woefully thin at WR now, after losing Amendola to Miami, cutting Britt, having Edelman get suspended for 4 games, and now Decker retiring. Eagles starting QB Carson Wentz has still not been cleared for contact, so Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP is still playing. Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso ended up staggering over to the wrong sideline and hanging out after a play. Bears coach Matt Nagy is defending his decision to bench all of his starters. I’m surprised more teams don’t do that. It’s so dangerous for them to play these 4 meaningless games. Josh Gordon has been activated by Browns but is dealing hamstring issues. The Bucs are meeting with former Ravens RB Terrance West. The Browns have reportedly offered Dez Bryant a deal. Vikings’ Antwione Williams has been reportedly fined $20,000 for controversial penalty. Dolphins’ Julius Thomas is retiring from NFL to pursue doctorate in psychology. Cardinals signed injured center A.Q. Shipley to one-year contract extension. Browns QB Tyrod Taylor suffered a dislocated pinky to his non-throwing hand. Raiders signed corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Coach Harbaugh wants to keep QB Robert Griffin III. The Steelers signed kicker Chris Boswell to a new 5-year contract. The 49ers sent LB Eli Harold to the Lions.

NHL:

The NHL preseason starts on 9/15. Erik Karlsson trade chatter has reheated. He has now said that he wants to play in the US and won’t re-sign with a Canadian team. NHL’s top free-agent prize signed with the Maple Leafs. Former Red Wings No.1 pick Joe Murphy is now homeless, according to recent documentary. Senators assistant GM Randy Lee resigned after July suspension. Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and wife welcomed their first child. Bryan Berard the No.1 pick in 1995 has filed a concussion-related lawsuit. On the trade rumor front, the Bruins are expected to acquire a winger. They may be able to get Blue Jackets’ Artemi Panarin or Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds. Also, former Bruin center Tyler Sequin has failed to sign a contract extension with the Stars. As the Red Wings continue to rebuild, questions linger over where their veterans, like Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist, and Trevor Daley will wind up. The NHL is reportedly considering reinstating Slava Voynov.

NBA:

The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on major changes for 2018-19 season. NBA free-agency is still a big topic in the news. Spurs’ Manu Ginobili announced his retirement. Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reportedly has torn meniscus. Meanwhile, his annoying father, LaVar Ball, and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo) have been ripped by their former Lithuanian coach, saying “they started destroying” the team. Their stint in professional Lithuanian basketball did not last long. Jimmy Butler of the Wolves says he is open to playing with LeBron James on the Lakers. Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart was named WNBA MVP. Warriors’ star Stephen Curry is now opening up about women’s equality and WNBA pay vs NBA pay in basketball. Kobe Bryant is shooting down rumors about coming out of retirement just to play with LeBron James on the Lakers. Former Warriors guard Nick Young was arrested in Hollywood. Former Kings’ Ty Lawson is working out with the Pelicans. Isaiah Thomas says the Nuggets “will be making” the playoffs next season. Diana Taurasi won her 13th consecutive single-elimination. Kawhi Leonard says he is open to re-signing with the Raptors.

Travel News:

Did you know that Amex Platinum cardholders get automatic elite status at Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton hotels around the world? China has suspended a popular ride share service by Didi Chuxing, following the murder of a passenger. Didi is the world’s largest ride-sharing firm by number of rides. JetBlue has instituted new baggage and flight change fees. Great. There is an Anthony Bourdain travel documentary coming out next year. Did you know, and this isn’t one of those movies, one in every 50 travelers finds the love of their life while on a flight? Now, totally unrelated, a couple spent 13 hours straight riding the Jurassic Park ride at Universal in Orlando, FL and then got engaged. Okay, a little weird. There is a “completely untouched” Scottish island for sale for a mere $154,000. The full moon we just had was not the ‘Blueberry Moon’ but ‘The Sturgeon Moon’, the 9th full moon of 2018. The World’s first beer hotel with in-room taps and shower mini-bars, is finally open. The DogHouse in Columbus, OH sports 32-rooms and a spa that uses beer-infused products. Ironically, it is owned by a Scottish beer company, BrewDog, not US. Well, we are approaching Labor Day, which is a US holiday to celebrate our workers, but is also kind of the unofficial ‘end of summer’ holiday, certainly the end of Hamptons and Newport, RI summer rentals. It is, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on where you live and which side of the fence you are on, the beginning of the school year. Yelp! Compiled a list of the 10 “must-see” US destinations for the Labor Day Weekend getaway:

Half Moon Bay, CA
St. Augustine, FL
Miami Beach, FL (could be)
Savannah, GA
Capitola, CA (never even heard of this one)
Charleston, SC
Wisconsin Dells, WI (yes, I’ve heard of this one)
Corpus Christi, TX
Saratoga Springs, NY
Hilton Head Island, SC (bring alligator repellant)

Did you know that Zurich, Switzerland’s coolest area is also its red light district, Bahnofstrasse? A hotel fire in Harbin, China, killed 19 people and injured more than 20 others. In Orlando, FL, two workers were killed when they fell from a scaffolding, working on a new section of one of the Disney amusement parks’ attractions.

“Global Car Sales Hit Speed Bump as Demand Slows and Trade Tensions Loom…After nearly a decade of growth, new-vehicle sales in the world’s largest auto markets are entering their first sustained slowdown since the global financial crisis, putting pressure on profits as uncertainty around the U.S.’s trade policies looms.”WSJ,

Health News:

A new study suggests that aspirin and fish oil may not actually help with heart risk. Scientists think that marijuana may stay in breast milk for as much as 6 days. Diet drug Belviq is the first one shown not to hurt heart in any way. Ex-CDC Director Frieden has been arrested on sex charges. An EpiPen shortage is causing concern as school year begins. King Bio kids products have been recalled for contamination. Almond milk has been recalled over cow’s milk concerns. A type of whey powder, likely source of salmonella, has been recalled. Speaking of salmonella, an outbreak linked to raw turkey has sickened at least 90 people. More than 500 people have been sickened now by McDonald’s salads, likely with listeria. It turns out that in water utilities around Georgia, the system for testing lead in water may not have been working as it should, leaving some people uninformed about potential dangers. The FDA has cleared first Tretinoin lotion for acne (Altreno). Missouri has become the first state to regulate the use of word “meat”. A new study suggests that air pollution causes a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence. China is reportedly withholding samples of a dangerous flu virus from the US. New research shows that deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide now outpace diabetes. Scientists believe they have found a genetic link between marijuana and schizophrenia. One in seven US adults is now on marijuana.

Animal News:

I had all these great shark and alligator pictures in the Repo Commentary last week, along with the changes to the Trump Oval Office, but it turns out that you could only see them if you looked at it on to the http://www.repocommentary.com website. Sorry. In Hawaii, an Alabama man was fined $1500 for touching a Hawaiian monk seal and harassing a sea turtle on Kauai and then posting those pictures on social media. The Courier-Journal is reporting on a sadistic trend of some pet owners, desperate for narcotic drugs, injuring their pets to get narcotics from the pets’ veterinarian. DEA officials have sent out a warning to veterinarians, saying that this is a real issue. In one case, a Kentucky woman used her husband’s disposable razor blades to cut her mixed-breed retriever, Alice, on multiple occasions to get an opioid painkiller. The owner eventually confessed to her actions and was sentenced to 4 years behind bars for obtaining a controlled substance by making false statements (felony) and torture of a cat or dog (misdemeanor). A judge is now set to rule on whether Yellowstone-area grizzly bears can be hunted. There have been 37 shark attacks worldwide so far this year, 21 of them in the US, and 9 of those in Florida. Sharktivity reports that at least 15 great white sharks have been sighted very close to shore in Cape Cod in the last week. The Number One advice in Cape Cod is to avoid swimming anywhere near the seals. Sharktivity is part of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, “which supports scientific research, improves public safety, and educates the community to inspire conservation of Atlantic White Sharks.” It now has an app for cellular phones that tracks sightings of tagged great white sharks. The app has Shark Alerts, Sightings, Satellite Detection, and Acoustic Detection.

Entertainment News:

Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and author, Neil Simon, has died of complications from pneumonia at age 91. The prolific writer wrote more than 30 plays and nearly as many movie screenplays. He received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. Ironically, he was born on the 4th of July. Nationally syndicated radio host Dan Loesch says it is time social media platforms reined in bias against politics and applied their terms of service, after a Twitter use threatened to attack her children. Burning Man, a festival for some 70,000 people, began on Sunday in Black Rock City, a temporary city in Nevada where the event is held every August. Lines to get in reportedly hit 10 hours wait due to dust storms that caused danger driving conditions and the gates to be closed for 3 hours. A sign of the times, Pittsburgh has become the largest city in the US without a daily print newspaper. One electronic news source may also be having trouble, as BUZZFEED has recently asked its audience for donations. Leading journalists have banded together to call for EU copyright reform. 82-year-old actor Robert Redford’s latest movie, THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN, is about to be released in theaters 9/28. After six decades of charming us with his acting, Redford said the movie will be his final one as an actor. The Sumner Redstone civil war began to heat up again, as his daughter prepares to take control. Eddie Murphy is expecting his 10th child. This will be his second child with longtime girlfriend Paige Butcher. The 57-year-old Murphy has 8 other children from previous relationships with ex-wife Nicole Murphy, ex-girfriend Tamara Hood, ex-girlfriend Paulette McNeely, and ex-girlfriend Spice Girl Mel B. Luckily, he has several projects to support his growing family, including movies DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, TRIPLETS, and BEVERLY HILLS COPS 4. The man who allegedly gave Demi Lovato the drugs is speaking about her overdose. The Sister Wives family that had to flee Utah has relocated to Arizona. Buzz is swirling that Alec Baldwin will play Bruce Wayne’s dad in JOKER movie, the next instalment of the many BATMAN movies’ franchise. Pauly D fed cannoli to fans at a club. In the media, Angelina Jolie is no longer coming off as the saint she was purported to be. Brad Pitt said he is “sickened” by her in an interview. Kanye West says he wants to teach people how to wear sandals. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row will launch a men’s line now. Bella Thorne apparently is showing off her new bikini and armpit hair on Instagram. Tobias Menzies is playing Prince Philip in THE CROWN. Rihanna has shared a rare photo with her parents after forgiving her father. Chris Stapleton is topping the list of CMA Awards nominations. Do they have a CMA award show every month? Have you see the eerie pictures of Paul McCartney’s grandson? (you’ll only be able to see this on the website, I fear)
The Asia Argento assault story of the 17-year-old boy is apparently getting even more bizarre now. Bobbi Kristina’s friend who found her dead in the bathtub has just died from an overdose himself. Ben Affleck is back in alcohol rehab and apparently stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box on the way there. The buzz is that Bob Costas is bailing on NBC because it’s not a fit anymore. Johnny Depp scored a victory in court in lengthy legal battle against his ex-lawyer. K-pop band BTS beat Taylor Swift’s YouTube record for most video views in 24 hours.

This week’s box-office was very weak, as the blockbusters fell and the debuts underperformed. Also, I failed to live up to my promise to go and catch up on movies, which certainly put a dent in their revenues. CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which had debuted at No.1 last week, somehow stayed at No.1 with $24.8 million (with a total now of $76.6 million and a cost of just $30 million to make) in Weed 2; staying at No.2 was megladon Shark movie THE MEG, which still made $12.8 million in its 3rd week ($105 million total for a movie that cost $130 million); No.3 was the debut of THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, with $9.5 million (low for a movie that cost $40 million to make); No.4 was still MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (which I still want to see and review for you) with $8.1 million, in its 5th week (total so far of $194 million, clearing its $178 million budget); and No.5 was MILE 22, which fell from No.3, with a disappointing $6.4 million (total of only $25.5 million for cost of $50 million), in its 2nd week. The highest next debut was at No.10 for A.X.L., which was on limited release and only made $2.8 million. I was going to see ALPHA, but then I found out it is all subtitles, so a film, not a movie. I still want to see MAMMA MIA HERE WE GO AGAIN. If you are looking for the flop of the summer, it is probably Dwayne Johnson in SKYSCRAPER, which cost $125 million to make and has had revenue of only $67.1 million.

Movies coming out this week: OPERATION FINALE, KIN, SEARCHING, ACTIVE MEASURES, BIG BROTHER, BLOOD FEST, THE LITTLE STRANGER, PICK OF THE LITTER, SNOW QUEEN 2: FIRE AND ICE, and YA VEREMOS.

Technology & Space News:

Not far from the movie depiction, the memoir by Steve Jobs’ daughter also portrays the Apple co-founder as a mean person whose behavior was enabled by those around him. Elon Musk just announced that he no longer wants to make Tesla a private company. Data from several US states is showing that thousands of Amazon employees are using food stamps. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 3 Amazon employees in Arizona is on food stamps and 1 in every 10 in Ohio are on food stamps. President Trump has accused Google of rigging search results against him and called it “a very serious situation” that “will be addressed.” The White House is now looking at regulating Google. Best Buy revenue fell the most in almost one year, as growth is seen cooling off. Robot strawberry pickers could end the need for human workers. Droid butlers are coming to one chic Miami hotel. Silicon Valley has taken another step toward autonomous flying, since autonomous driving has gone so well. Amazon reportedly wants to help you start your own delivery business.

Political News:

According to PredictIt, the odds of a President Trump impeachment are increasing, after he was implicated in federal crimes by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. An ESPN host, Max Kellerman, teed off on Tiger Woods during his show First Take because of Tiger’s “thoughtless” refusal to take a shot at President Trump. Apparently, Kellerman got “angry” when Woods was asked about his relationship with Trump and Woods urged people “to respect the office of the President.” The host then chastised Woods with a long dissertation and finished by saying, “that is a stupid comment.” This isn’t the first time that ESPN has decided to wade into the middle of politics with opinions offered by liberal hosts and anchors and abandon the neutral reporting of sports news.

US News:

Florida officials and FBI agents are pouring over the scene of the popular Jacksonville, FL Landing boardwalk, where a gamer shot up a Madden 19 video game tournament on Sunday, killing 2 people and injuring 12 more, before turning the handgun on himself. Authorities now believe the California man, who killed a man who played video games to earn money for college and a West Virginia man whose e-sports winnings helped support his young family, “clearly targeted other gamers” at the Florida tournament, himself a competitor in the tournament. Flags are at half-staff throughout the country for hero Senator John McCain, who succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer on Sunday, shortly after his family ended his treatment. Ironically, he died on the same date (9 years later) as his longtime political opponent, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who also died of the same rare form of brain cancer. Oddly, President Trump withdrew at the last minute a statement that would have praised Sen. John McCain following his death. The two have feuded or years and the President was reportedly not invited to his funeral. McCain’s office announced his pallbearers and other aspects of 3 days of services for hero. Actor Warren Beatty will join other former Senators (Hart, Gramm, Feingold, Whitehouse) and Vice President Joe Biden as pallbearers. Also paying tribute to McCain will be Jeff Flake, Joe Biden, Meghan McCain, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Henry Kissinger, Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman, and Kelly Ayote. A video of a mystery woman in a t-shirt and possibly shackles appearing on a Texas homeowner’s doorstep has prompted officials to launch a search for her. A Miami model is facing a murder charge, after he was captured on video using a bat to beat a homeless man who later died, all captured on surveillance video. A Texas couple’s fun-filled road trip to Michigan to see a rock concert ended with them arrested on Monday, after police said they had discovered that the couple had left their 11-year-old daughter home alone for days. University of North Carolina leaders have met to discuss the toppling of a Confederate statue on campus by rowdy students. The mother of a 9-year-old boy says her son committed suicide after coming out gay and then being bullied by his classmates. Authorities in a suburb of Philadelphia are searching for a person of interest, after the murder of a former Playboy playmate was discovered strangled in her apartment. The Catholic diocese of Buffalo, not one in Pennsylvania, has resigned as pastor of his NY church, after a sexual abuse complaint. A firefighter and a good Samaritan leapt into action as gunfire erupted at a New Mexico convenience store, as surveillance footage shows the the two heroes shielding women and children at the store. Some NYCHA employees are now being accused of using housing projects for wild orgies, according to the NY Post. A Texas man says he’s selling 3-D printed gun plans, despite authorities halt.

International News:

Pope Francis has refused to comment on the bombshell allegations of sexual abuse cover ups in Pennsylvania dioceses, which may involve thousands of victims and over 300 priests. North Korea’s state newspaper is claiming that the US is secretly plotting to “unleash a war” while it is continuing to negotiate peace “with a smile on its face” with the regime. The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) leader in Afghanistan was killed in a US airstrike. Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as PM of Australia, after a change of Liberal Party leadership. Saudi Arabia still intends to behead Israa al-Ghomgham, who is to be tried before the Saudi terrorism tribunal on charges solely related to peaceful human-rights activism, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Five other Shiites face the same potential fate. The charges include chanting slogans hostile to the regime, filing protests, posting on social media, seeking to inflame public opinion, and providing moral support to rioters. Russia is currently staging its largest war games in 40 years, using 300,000 troops.

Florida:

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for parts of Florida. The West Coast, particularly Southwest (which is very unusual) is suffering the worst bloom of Red Tide in Florida’s history, and scientists are actually pointing to African desert sand as a possible culprit, not human pollution. On the East Coast, the state is suffering from deadly blue-green algae, which is directly linked to the runoffs (both East and West) from Lake Okeechobee and use of phosphorous in fertilizer for the sugar plantations just south of Lake Okeechobee that now block the runoff from seeping into the filtering swamps of the Everglades. Both problems are deeply impacting the wildlife, fishing industry, and tourism industry of Florida. A Florida Chick-fil-A restaurant is opening its franchise right net to another Chick-fil-A restaurant. That’s weird.

My harmony group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, and I (again in full Elvis attire) will be performing 9/2 at Cucina Cabana 1pm-3pm in North Palm Beach, FL and again 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern 5pm-8pm in Jupiter, FL.

If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Rick Springfield-Pompano Beach, August 28
Beyonce and Jay-Z-Miami Gardens, August 31
K.D. Lang-Fort Lauderdale-September 7
Paul Simon-Sunrise, September 8
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise-October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami-October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood-October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale-December 15
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16